Tallahassee’s business community is invaluable to our quality of life. It doesn’t deserve to be denigrated. | Steve Evans

From Tallahassee Democrat

One of the troubling trends of the local political cycle has been the open denigration of the business community and the people who work for these businesses.

According to the U.S. census, more than 100,000 Leon County residents work in the private sector. The private sector payroll in Leon County is over $4 billion.

When these people — and the companies they work for — give money to political candidates, it’s not because they are a part of some corrupt, nefarious scheme. It’s because they want to participate in the political process and make sure their business and all those employees are represented fairly.

They care about things like roads and sidewalks, affordable housing, job growth and countless other issues. And they give generously through tens of millions of dollars of philanthropy, volunteerism and community leadership.

Many of these laborers are represented by one of the four main business groups in town – the Capital City Chamber, the Big Bend Minority Chamber, Network of Entrepreneurs & Business Advocates, and the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

These groups work relentlessly to better our community.

But even when trying to make a profit, local businesses are making a huge contribution to our economy and community.

Those 100,000-plus workers would be unemployed but for the products their businesses produce: coffee, lunch, plants, artwork, roofs, cabinets and more. And what about the services: IT, legal, accounting, childcare, lawn care.

These products and services are innumerable and of incalculable value to Leon County residents.

And yet, the entire sector is demonized by those who want you to follow this logic – public corruption was connected to business so businesses who give money to political candidates must be corrupt.

Only one businessman has been implicated in the local corruption. As far as anybody knows, the investigation is over. And by the way, two commissioners were either indicted or convicted, but you don’t hear the business community implying that all the other public officials must be corrupt.

On a personal note, I know a lot of the folks being demonized – not only are the not corrupt, but they care deeply about this community and its future.

It’s sad that too many local candidates are willing to sacrifice our vital, caring private sector on the altar of political gain.

I, for one, support our local businesses and the candidates who feel the same way.