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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As locally owned businesses face struggles in a West Virginia economy lagging behind most of the country, sponsoring an event or helping with a fundraiser might not be the first thing on their mind.
But Jeremy Nelson, executive director of Moses Premier Auto Group, said the money spent on philanthropic efforts is one of the best ways for businesses of a smaller scale to establish themselves.
“You can't be everything to everyone, but we want to be doing the right things by helping sponsor an event or something like that,” he said. “And in the meantime, you hope those people remember you when they're buying a car.”
It also pays off in a more immediate sense — with the people they see benefit from the efforts. Nelson pointed out working with the local Ronald McDonald House, the nonprofit family health care service, as particularly moving.
“When you're at the Ronald McDonald House and you see people in the worst moments of their lives, it's cool that we're able to embrace them, support them and provide housing when they don't know where to turn,” he said.
As he settles into his new gig as executive director for the recently formed Moses Premier Auto Group, Nelson will lead the efforts for one of Charleston's most familiar community sponsors. It's a wrinkle in his wide-ranging job he does not take lightly.
“They have been stewards of the community for years,” Nelson said. “We're going to continue that work, and this is just the beginning. There's a lot to look forward to.”
The car dealership has backed numerous charities and events in the Charleston area over the years, including the outdoor concert series Live on the Levee, The Foundation for the Thomas Memorial and St. Francis Hospitals, and the annual Carnaval Gala, a fundraiser for the Clay Center and the Charleston Ballet.
Sally Barton, executive director of the foundation, said Nelson's personalized approach will only benefit Moses.
“He sees these things not just as a business opportunity, but as an opportunity to give back,” she said. “He's driven by philanthropy, and successful businesses are the ones that have people engage in that way.”
Sponsorships are also a way to show customers that a company cares about the community, according to Drew Hendricks, a contributor at the business advice website Inc.
“Your competitors' products and/or services may be just as great as yours, but if your business shows an ethical commitment to the community as a whole, you can bet potential customers will take that into consideration,” he wrote.
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