I don’t believe that shopping locally is the end-all to the current economic disruption. I also don’t believe it has to be branded as a new kind of protectionism. In these trying times, I believe a multi-faceted recovery approach is necessary. It starts with a strong education system. The second and third prongs are attracting new industries and supporting those businesses that are here now – especially those that contribute to placemaking – which is part of why new industries would be attracted. Here’s why I think supporting local business matters:
1. Reports vary but it’s clear, a significantly higher percentage of your spend stays in your community when you shop with a local vendor.
2. A thriving local business community contributes to place-making. This makes a community unique and is also what attracts more businesses and keeps top-tier college graduates in a community – which is another business attraction.
3. Get better service. In a local business, there’s a stronger chance that you know the person behind the counter, and they know you. They may have a deeper understanding of the products they’re selling, and they may take more time to serve their customers.
4. It’s about job creation. Small businesses create 2 out of every three new jobs in our economy. This feeds the trend and the trend needs fed.
5. It’s likely that you save gas and travel time while doing business with an entity that is paying local taxes to contribute to local infrastructure such as libraries and police.
6. Your goods may also travel less distance using less fossil fuel. Clearly it depends on the type of business but using local food as an example, reports indicate that if every American ate only one locally grown meal each week, we’d reduce our country’s weekly oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels.
7. There are often more full-time workers with benefits in a locally owned business than in a national chain. This typically has long-term impacts on the health care systems and the community at large.
8. It’s rare for a national business to make a significant contribution to local philanthropy unless it’s their headquarters.
9. Local businesses are more likely to give their own business to other local businesses such as lawyers, sign makers, accountants and printers.
10. It gives you the opportunity to engage with local business people hence creating a larger sense of community.