Community ROI Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2008

Vibrant business communities with a strong work force don’t just happen — they’re created by intentional planning and development. Your organization has the responsibility of helping the communities in which it does business to grow and benefit from your contributions.

“The economic development of Tampa Bay depends on ensuring that we have a skilled and trained work force to meet the growing demands of business,” say Angela Rosario, community relations manager, and Rick Gonzales, general manager, of Tampa Bay.

Smart Business asked Rosario and Gonzales how corporate social responsibility benefits work force development and employee morale and how you can get involved in the Tampa Bay area.

How is giving back to the community an investment in your work force?

We believe that there is a delicate balance. The investment in the community should go hand in hand with your business objectives. It should help people take a look into their future, provide information that can help them to become better job seekers, and help steer them toward careers that both fit their personal passion and fulfill the needs of tomorrow’s business. By proactively addressing work force issues through community investment, companies help ensure that they have access to a consistent flow of skilled individuals to meet their staffing needs.

How does social responsibility have a positive impact on employees?

Studies have shown that companies that support their communities by encouraging employee involvement often have higher employee morale and retention rates. People want to make a difference, and they feel more loyal to their employers when they can partner with them in community service.

Companies engage their employees through various means. They can support their volunteer activities, educate and authorize them to become brand ambassadors who educate the community about the company’s mission, or financially contribute to programs, events and activities that match the company’s mission and core values.

How can companies effectively demonstrate social responsibility?

We believe that when an organization focuses social responsibility efforts toward mission-driven activities, there is a greater impact as well as an investment in the local work force.

One of our favorite examples is supporting the fundraising efforts of organizations that have a high impact in the community. The Chloe Coney Urban Enterprise Center, for example, is due to be completed in late 2008, and will be a state-of-the-art Center to enable the CDC of Tampa to enhance services in the East Tampa community and the region as a whole.

The CDC of Tampa is an experienced landlord, managing commercial projects and community-based facilities at multiple locations throughout East Tampa. It currently maintains a staff of 14 full-time employees and 12 part-time contractual personnel. Since inception, it has leveraged more than $40 million in public and private ventures to the community.

Do you have any other specific Tampa Bay-area examples? has been honored to participate in groundbreaking events throughout Tampa Bay. We support events that facilitate the celebratation of cultural diversity and highlight how working together benefits the economic development of our community. Local organizations are welcome to participate in, for example, the International Business Summit, which is a collaboration of area chambers of commerce and helps participants gain a greater appreciation of the rich cultural flavors in the region and a deeper understanding of how to use a competitive advantage in businesses.

How can businesses involve their employees in corporate responsibility?

Community spirit, including supporting non-profit and community organizations, should be a core value in your business. This commitment should be demonstrated through the organization’s use of resources. Your business, for example, could allow employees to dedicate paid time toward community service activities. Another option is allowing them to use flexible scheduling or use of personal time to assist at volunteer events that take place during the day or work week, such as school activities. Volunteer service is a source of pride for employees. Companies should also share their financial success with the local community through a variety of support, specifically focused on work force development and non-profit community organizations. Participating in employee gift matching programs is another way for a company to involve employees in giving back to the community.

Companies should utilize their work force as passionate spokespersons in the community, demonstrating their company’s commitment and social responsibility to Tampa Bay.

ANGELA ROSARIO, PHR, is community relations manager and RICK GONZALES is general manager at Tampa Bay, a local job search resource. Reach them at (813) 649-8411, or