The Cost of Not Shopping Local

Jacksonians were bummed to discover last week that the city plans to raise water fees by 13 percent and sewer fees by 6 percent to shore up the city's budget after a drop in sales-tax revenue.

This means that we are paying the price for shopping outside Jackson and sending our sales tax out of town.

No doubt, a bad economy has meant less spending. But that isn't the whole issue: We've watched businesses flip from one side of the County Line Road to the other in recent years, taking a chunk of the capital city's cut of the sales tax with them. And every time a Jackson resident leaves the city to shop, we are setting up a scenario that can lead to drastic increases in water fees and the like.

In Jackson, we pay a 7 percent state sales tax, in addition to two percentage points that are divided between the Jackson Convention Center and the Convention and Visitors' Bureau. Of the 7 percent on most purchases, the state then pays the city of Jackson 18.5 percent a year, which makes up a large portion of the city's budget. As businesses, and customers, leave the city, that share falls.

In other words, where you shop really matters. If you care about Jackson, spend more in the city. This applies even if you're choosing to shop at a large chain retailer: When you shop at Target in Jackson instead of in Flowood, more of your tax dollars come back to Jackson. We're not saying to never shop outside Jackson, but if every one of the 64,337 JFP readers spends 25 percent more inside the city limits, it would make a difference.

Of course, the real strength of our city's economy comes from locally owned businesses inside the city limits. Studies show that for every $100 spent at a truly locally owned business (be sure to ask where their home office really is, by the way), only $27 leaves the local economy, mostly for supplies not available locally. For a non-local business or chain store, $57 of every $100 leaves the city.

This also means that if you are going to spend outside the city limits, please choose a locally owned business as close as possible to help the greater Jackson area. (We print BOOM Jackson with Hederman Bros. in Ridgeland, for instance.) The worst scenario for the city is spending money with national chains outside the city limits.

Want to join others in the Spend Local First movement? Come out Friday, Nov. 19, to Koinonia Coffee House at 9 a.m. to hear Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, brought here by the JFP-BOOM. The "local" ideas are sure to flow.

Previous Comments


I am one of the 64,337 JFP readers (online) that lives outside the city limits of Jackson. I read JFP for the progressive content not found at the corporate media sources in the metro area. Using the logic presented in this op-ed it is in my best interest to stay north of County Line road in order to keep my tax dollars at home where they will do me the most good. Point well taken. I will continue to read JFP and hope that one day the metro area will have a publication that addresses the progressive audience without regard to imaginary lines drawn by political functionaries. Entrepreneurs are you listening?

Jeffery R

Jeff, please listen to what we're saying closer. We are calling for (a) more people (including Jacksonians) to spend more money inside the city limits of the state's capital city so that we can afford vital services, including water and sewage used by non-profits, churches and state offices that take more resources than they give to the city (and most of whose workers do not live int he city). And (b) right in the editorial we call for readers to shop locally outside the city limits as well, and even call out a Ridgeland-based printer that we do business with. So how in the world you think we are telling people to only shop in Jackson is beyond me. The JFP and BOOM serve the greater Jackson area. We do stories on people and businesses throughout the metro, and we have readers throughout the metro. We love and shop at local businesses throughout the metro (like, say, Repeat Street and Material Girls, to know two very cool ones). But if every reader of the JFP would take, say, 25 percent of what they spend at big-box chains outside the city limits and divide it between local businesses inside Jackson and in the metro, our entire area's economy would be stronger. And we urge people who live in the suburbs to consider investing in your capital city because your area's strength is dependent on ours because we are the capital city, and many of you work here and use resources. Jeff, we have moved beyond the simplistic city=v.-metro arguments of earlier years. So much has changed in Jackson in the last eight years that it is not a debate that serves any of us. However, raising awareness about the need to spend local AND in the capital city are vital for anyone who, say, uses any water for any reason inside the city limits. This is just common-sense stuff, so for God's sake, don't try to turn it into something it's not. That's such a waste of time and energy. As we enter our 9th year here, I'm really ready to move past pettiness and see great Jackson united for all of our good. Oh, and I misstated the readership number. Seems that the most recent number is 69,500. My bad.



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