Recently, in the news there has been coverage concerning a gas station located at 35th and McKinley in the City of Milwaukee. The Near West Side Partners has had this gas station on its radar for several years due to reoccurring issues and some high profile cases. Ultimately, the Common Council upheld the decision to revoke all the gas station’s licenses this month due to the owner’s inability to follow-up with the community and in particular with the Milwaukee Police Department with a plan to address the crime and disorder.

Ald. Robert Bauman, a voice for the community, explained to the Common Council the issues that ultimately affect the residents and community members quality of life. District Three’s Captain Norman also weighed in on the issues that the owner has yet to address.

There are many lessons to be learned here and in summary for local businesses it is pretty simple, “It’s Not Rocket Science”. Here are some ways a business owner can be proactive and support a better quality of life for residents, businesses, community stakeholders and, patrons while still making a profit.

Work with the Police

A business should be open to working with the police on many levels. First, a business should always call the police when suspicious and illegal activity is happening at or near their property. These calls are not used against a business and actually highlight the business owners attempt to improve conditions. A business owner should have a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) survey completed at least every three (3) years. This survey highlights how the environment and landscape can increase or deter crime activity. Another way to support a partnership with police is install and have available HD quality cameras. Sharing video footage for incidents at or around the property can support police investigations, saving both time and resources.

Partner with your Local Community

Partnering with the local community could lead to many meaningful activities while building long lasting relationships. Being a resource for community events which could include but is not limited to providing bags for clean-ups, providing space for community meetings, removing graffiti in and around your property and, attending community events. Reaching out to meet local electeds and other community stakeholder before a license hearing is a very important to partnering with the local community as most businesses forget the community until a license is in jeopardy.

Communicating with the Local Electeds

It is important for businesses whether they are large, med-size or small that they communicate with the local elected official. They should especially engage if they have a business that has a lot of traffic and can negatively impact a community. For example, there are large box stores that can add upwards of 33% of additional crime activity local communities. Such activity drains the community of its resources and this eventually becomes the downfall for many businesses. Working and partnering with the local electeds may assist in avoiding such issues.

Stop the Blame Game

Communities across the country experience economic up and down turns. These communities have survived for years and will continue after a business closes its doors. Businesses should see communities as partners and provide/build collaboratively platforms for partnerships. Blaming communities for crime and disorder while profiting is nonsensical. If a community is in just too bad of shape to operate a business, why are you there and why do you continue to operate and fight to operate your business in such communities? Ultimately businesses are open to make a profit which is the main priority however most business owners should understand their “corporate social responsibility”. You as a business owner must understand your local social responsibility to the people that put money in your pocket.

Lastly, it is important for those businesses that really care that they understand their market and the people that they serve. Businesses like Kilbourn Supermarket (owner Bobby Singh) on 27th and Kilbourn have spent years building relationships and learning their customer. These businesses not only provide products and services but also the provide a space for community. A space for residents and patrons to connect, meet, discuss and learn from each other. Understanding the people you serve may mean that you take time to treat customers with respect and say hello. That respect may mean making sure you clean your sidewalks and keep your property well-lit and properly maintained. It may mean that you don’t treat each customer as a criminal or dismiss them with bad customer service.

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