I heard the Chairman of Petsmart speak at a press conference this week. He said, “Folks, these are not tough times. This is the new normal.” With uncharacteristic pessimism but dependable pragmatism, I picked up my blackberry and tweeted his comment to my followers.
Phil Francis: these are not tough times – this is the new normal! 10:45 AM Apr 27th via txt
Yes Phil, I think you might be right. Now what do we do about it?
In the trailer for the soon to be released documentary Greenhorns, farmer Amy Courtney from Freewheelin Farm in Davenport, CA says “I’m doing the best that I can to live honestly. I’m not relying on some strange economic structures that have been set up that benefit some and hurt others to make my livelihood. I think that makes me feel a little bit safer in a world gone mad.”
While referencing farming, I think Amy’s statement is demonstrative of a greater public sentiment – a public that wants to feel safer.
In my day to day activities, I’m not setting up a farmer’s market or tilling my acreage but I am working to make more intentional purchases. My money – with a credit union that is based locally. Going to the movies – we have locally owned theatres that I choose. Dinner – sitting in the dining room of a local entrepreneur chef.
My spending isn’t all local but I’m working to shift more of my dollars into my local economy. A recent study from Grand Rapids, MI, that examined spending patterns determined that if all 600,000 residents of Grand Rapids simply shifted 10% of their spending from national to local businesses, the result would be 1600 new jobs, an additional $130 million invested in the local economy and an increase of $50 million in local wages within one year. That’s in part due to the fact that those local businesses pay taxes and are more likely to also use local services than their national counterparts.
Local spending isn’t the silver bullet but in conjunction with deliberate strategies to improve our education system and increase base industry, it has the power to take us beyond our new normal. And it makes me feel safer.
Where can you shift your spending so that more of your dollars stay in your local economy?