Chamber scholarship winner explains businesses’ impact on small towns

The school year is over, but Osage City High School seniors should make a note on the calendar to write an essay next spring – it could be worth $250. The Osage City Chamber of Commerce offers two $250 scholarships each year to a male and a female Osage City High School senior. This year’s only scholarship was awarded to Mariel Robert. No male seniors applied.

Mariel’s winning essay was titled “Owning and operating a small town business”, which fit the required topic of the essay: business in a small community. Mariel’s essay follows:

Owning and operating a small town business
By Mariel Robert

Anywhere you go in life, you are going to encounter some kind of business. The market downtown or the supermall in Topeka, or even where your parents work. Just about everything we do or sec can be related back to a business. But what makes owning and operating a business in a small town so special is that you get to impact the lives of your community in multiple ways.

People make the world go round, and dealing with those people is just part of life. And when you own a business in a small town, you have a chance to really build a relationship with your customers.

For example, in the morning when you walk into your favorite local convenience store, you get a warm “good morning” and they probably even address you by name – which makes a difference! The familiar and comfortable setting is probably one of the reasons you continue to come back every morning. And when you are the owner of that small business, you get to be the person that makes a positive impact on that person’s morning, and maybe even life.

Have you ever wondered why Walmart hires greeters? Like really, someone to simply stand and say hello to people? Though you don’t know that person, and probably won’t ever see them again, that person is there to give you a false sense of familiarity. Which is a fantastic idea, because Walmart stores are so large and impersonal, making a customer feel welcome and invited is something very important. Walmart knows they can’t compete against the familiar atmosphere that you find at businesses in small towns.

Not only do small business owners get to impact the daily lives of their customers through relationships, but they also get to make an impact on the community’s economy. When a small town economy is thriving, it’s always because of the local businesses. The more the town can get in tax revenue from the businesses, the more the local government can give back to the community through parks, programs, and maybe even lower taxes.

When locals shop locally, that money stays here in the town. Which is awesome. But what’s even better for the town is if the local works and shops locally – like a small business owner. It’s a big circling pool of money that only benefits the town the longer it stays. And unlike in big cities, you know exactly where and who your money is going to. The money goes directly to a friend. And what is better than helping out a friend?

In the end, there are so many advantages to owning and operating a business in a small town. And I’m sure if you asked all of the small business owners what their favorite advantage was, they’d all give you different answers. But all of those answers could be linked back to just one thing, how they all impact the lives of their community members. Whether it be through individual and personal relationships or as the community as a whole. Without these hard working small business owners, small towns and the people who live in them wouldn’t be able to survive.


To qualify for the Chamber scholarship, Osage City High School seniors must write a 500-word essay on the topic of business in a small community; document a 3.5 grade point average; include two letters of reference; and  include work and volunteer history.

The Chamber raises funds for the scholarships by selling advertising spots on the twice annual citywide garage sale maps. For more information, contact the Osage City Chamber of Commerce at [email protected].

Revised June 16, 2014, to correct scholarship amount.


One Response to Chamber scholarship winner explains businesses’ impact on small towns

  1. Cathryn says:

    thanks for publishing this article, with a nice lead-in!

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