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AUSTIN EDITION - Support the businesses that support Austin

Like a needle &; thread,

bricks and mortar,

chains in a chain-link fence…

; We're Better Together!

"We're Better Together" is the theme of a new marketing campaign launched this month by the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce. The phrase seems obvious enough. And yet as a community, it seems we do not always realize just how interdependent we all are.

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Each year, Chamber member businesses dig deep to support scores of local organizations and causes. They contribute millions of dollars -- we estimate $3.1 million in 2003 alone -- to support a wide array of charitable organizations that benefit our community and residents in a myriad of ways.

Owners, managers and employees volunteer thousands of hours of their free time to work on projects to improve our community. They do so because they have an investment here. They live here; they work here; and they employ others who live and work here. Their children go to school here. They do all of this and more because they believe in Austin and want our community to continue to grow and prosper.

Chances are if your child plays hockey or the flute, he has turned to the business community for support. Chances are if your organization had a project that needed funding, you turned to the business community for donations. Chances are if your favorite organization supplies services to the needy, the business community supports those efforts in a large way. Most of the landmarks we hold dear -- Wescott Field, our high school, the Paramount Theatre, our nature center and more -- were improved through the cooperation of business and community leaders, employees and residents from all walks of life.

It's that sort of community-building that the chamber and its business leaders are all about. People in communities such as ours are interdependent. We live, work, play, succeed or fail together. The community needs a strong business district to enhance our tax base, provide jobs, offer products and services, and, yes, support the causes that improve everyone's quality of life. In return, the business community needs your support and the opportunity to do business with you to succeed. The next time you're looking to purchase any product or service, look to Austin-area businesses first. They're here for you and our community every day.

Be loyal. Shop local. Support those who support our community. We're better together!

Sandy Forstner is the executive director for the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce. His column appears on Wednesdays. The chamber office is 329 North Main, Suite 102. He can be reached at 437-4561 or by e-mail at execdir@austincoc.com.

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