Our national and global financial systems are comingapart, and as a community we need to start preparing ourselves forsome of the challenges that lie ahead. These challenges are anopportunity to evaluate how we can spend our dollars or trade forservices while making sure that we are supporting our localbusinesses.
More than ever in our lifetime, we need to understand theimportance of supporting our local merchants and farmers. Accordingto the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE),significantly more money recirculates in our community when we buyfrom locally owned businesses. More money stays because locallyowned businesses tend to purchase from other local businesses,service providers and farms. Purchasing locally helps grow otherbusinesses, as well as our community’s tax base for publicservice.
Our area businesses provide the most new jobs. The cumulativestrength of small local businesses make them the largest employersnationally, and in most communities they provide the most new jobsto residents. It is also important to recognize that one-of-a-kindbusinesses are an integral part of a community’s character. Becauselocal owners have much of their life savings invested in theirbusinesses, they have a natural interest in the long-term health oftheir community. People who own local businesses live in thecommunity and are less likely to leave.
Local businesses encourage investment in the community. Agrowing body of economic research shows that, in an increasinglyhomogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are morelikely to invest in and settle in communities that preserve theirone-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
Competition and diversity lead to more choices. A marketplace oftens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensureinnovation and low prices over the long term. A multitude of smallbusinesses, each selecting products based not on a national salesplan but on their own interests and the needs of their localcustomers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
Research indicates that local business owners tend to supportthe nonprofits in their area. According to the BALLE research,nonprofit organizations receive an average 350 percent greatersupport from local business owners than they do fromnon–locally owned businesses. Various studies have also shownthat our locally owned businesses provides better quality customerservice.
An additional reason for buying locally is that these businesseshave less environmental impact. Locally owned businesses can makemore area purchases, requiring less transportation, and usually setup shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on thefringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl,congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
In addition to goods and services, we should buy locally grownproduce. Almost daily we read about an outbreak of salmonella orother problems related to our food. The reason for this is that thefood has to travel so far to get to the consumer. Regarding thetransporting of food, it has been suggested that food be grownwithin 100 miles. Local farmers markets are important. We get totalk with the growers, find out what type of growing methods theyare using and where the food comes from while having theopportunity to buy fresh produce which has much more nutritionalvalue.
Shopping at locally owned businesses puts three times thedollars into our local economy. Researchers have found that theeconomic impact of shopping for goods and services at locally ownedbusinesses is significantly greater than at nonlocal alternatives.In Austin, Texas, Civic Economics found that for every $100 spentat a local bookstore, $45 stayed locally, but for every $100 spentat a chain store, only $13 stayed locally. Transferring some ofthis money from chain or internet businesses to local businessescan have a huge impact.
Don’t give your money away! Keep it in our community, and buylocal. By doing this, we will build a stronger and more resilientcommunity, one that can meet the many challenges ahead.
Elaine B. Holtz is producer of ‘Women’s Spaces’ on PublicAccess TV. Elaine is a sales and public-speaking consultant. She isavailable for presentations. Along with consulting, she and herpartner Ken Norton run Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. and GoSmallBiz,which offers plans to individuals and businesses.www.nortonholtz.com.
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