Communities need investments that go deeper than grants alone

Communities across Ohio are facing new and complex challenges. Twelve percent of Ohio families — 16.3 percent of Ohioans overall — were estimated to be in poverty in 2012.[1] Individuals and families are working harder than ever to stay afloat, and the nonprofit organizations addressing the most critical community challenges are serving more people than ever – only with fewer staff and resources. Fueling sustainable community change requires more than grant-making. It calls for a new way of doing business that engages more deeply in community — with the innovative thinking to solve problems, fill local needs, and create opportunities for communities to reach their full potential.

Contributing to the vitality of the communities in which we operate has been central to the way Economy Linen has done business since we opened our doors in 1931. We know that when communities thrive, business thrives. We believe that the best way to support the communities where we live and work – and ensure the long-term health of our business – is to apply the same strategic business thinking we use in our company to find solutions to social challenges in our communities.

In 2006, Economy Linen refocused our community investment strategy to build on two principles:

–        We develop community partnerships that leverage our company’s core strengths. As a small company, we look at our assets and abilities, and use them to make the greatest possible impact in addressing local needs. We don’t just write checks. We enlist our leadership team and employees to foster positive and sustained social change. This commitment and business-oriented approach are reflected in every step of Economy Linen’s community investment strategy – from needs assessment to design to implementation.

–        We seek to create a sustainable, collective benefit. When we invest in a community, we strive to ensure it is more than a one-time benefit. We work to foster an environment that creates value for everyone involved: the community, customers, and employees. When everyone supports a shared purpose and derives a meaningful benefit, this cycle gains momentum and continues to benefit all for the long term. Every local investment Economy Linen makes – from helping to expand the capacity of our community partners to offering employee expertise – aims to advance this broader long-term vision.

We recognize that these challenges are broad and complicated, and they require long-term efforts to change thinking and behavior. Economy Linen is committed to be an abiding partner that helps advance the sustained change that communities will benefit from.

[1] U.S. Census Bureau. September 2013.