I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is reprinted from the 11/23/11 edition with permission.

WHY SPOTLIGHT A COOKIE-CUTTER GAS STATION? 
Posted 11/25/2011

Earlier this month, the Platte City Board of Aldermen named Casey’s General Store the city’s business of the year. I can wait while you soak that in.

I enjoy the goods and services provided by Casey’s as much as as the next guy. I am a HUGE fan of their late night pizza, for instance. But really? A gas station? Your Business of the Year? Who else was nominated? A lemonade stand? Taco Bell?

Let’s set aside for a moment that the cost of gasoline is at its highest than at any other time in history, and let’s also set aside that Casey’s is a nationally-based chain. Let’s instead focus on what kind of message this send to outsiders.

You named a company that sells SlimJim’s your Business of the Year. Is that all you got, Platte City? You mean to tell me there’s not a furniture store that didn’t sell a few extra couches this past year? Or a bookkeeper that posted a profit for the first time? A quick google search of “Platte City Businesses” turns up plenty of locally-based businesses.

Casey’s General Stores, Inc. is a publicly traded company based in Iowa that made $6.1 billion last year in revenue selling doughnuts and diesel. They’re also reportedly being pursued by 7-Eleven for a corporate buyout. So, look forward to next year’s “Best Business” award to be delivered in a Slurpee cup.

According to the Platte County Economic Council, the “average household income is expected to reach $89,691 by 2015.”

Is spotlighting a store where you can get a can of motor oil, a pizza AND pack of Marlboro’s really the image you want as your first impression? When future businesses ask the Chamber of Commerce “what businesses most define Platte City?” Your reply will be, “The place that has 32 oz Mountain Dew on sale for 69 cents.”

Wouldn’t you want to select a Platte City-based business? Maybe one that could stand as a crown jewel of what Platte City stands for? With all due respect to Casey’s, who always sells me my sixer of Miller Light with a smile, I think the aldermen could do better to spotlight the industries and businesses in our community.

In order to compete with neighboring cities, you must spotlight what makes your town unique, not another cookie cutter gas station.

(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)