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As we collectively wait for our shot in the arm to disarm this pandemic, many businesses — including local businesses — could use an economic shot in the arm. Starting today, many will be getting just that.

Close to 200 lawmakers will return for the start of the annual legislative session today, and along with them come hundreds more lobbyists, staffers, interns, members of the media and others whose jobs revolve around the Capitol.

Combine them with the typical stream of visitors, ranging from school buses filled with students to protesters packing the south Capitol lawn. That adds up to a lot of people who will be spending money in our community.

Some of them will simply get a bite to eat before leaving town. But many will rent apartments, stay in hotels, shop at our local stores, fix their vehicles, seek health care — the same ways we all spend money in our community.

That will add to our local tax base, mostly through sales taxes, but also through property taxes in some cases.

Their presence creates an opportunity for local retailers, but also a challenge. How do you welcome our temporary visitors, and how do you convince them to do business with you?

There are many ways for businesses to roll out the red carpet, ranging from adding them to advertising campaigns to welcoming them on marquees. A face-to-face "thank you" never hurts either.

So, regardless of whether you stand to profit from the new legislative session, we ask you to be welcoming to our new visitors. They're here to do the business of the state, but they're also helping our local economy.

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