Why Local Matters

A 2010 report by Michigan State University assessed the economic advantages of shopping at locally owned businesses and, like researchers around the nation, found immense benefit to keeping as many dollars as possible in the local economy. Here are several local advantages:

• Job Creation: Small local businesses are the largest employers in the U.S., creating two out of three new jobs. Of of September 2010, small businesses had added more than 5 million jobs to the economy since 2003.

• Keep Money in Community: Dollars spent locally are much more often spent locally, shoring up the local economy and tax base. In Michigan $73 of every $100 spent with a local business stayed at home compared to $43 of every $100 at non-locally owned businesses. That means more money for public infrastructure, libraries, schools and roads.

• More Charitable Contributions: Locally owned businesses give more money and assistance to local charities and fundraisers. In Michigan, local business gave $4,000 to Walmart's $1,000 for every $1,000,000 in sales.

• Keep Community Unique: Local businesses aren't cookie-cutter and homogenized; they are authentic and exciting, helping to attract a vibrant work force, innovative entrepreneurs and skilled works—and help build community pride the way a Gap just can't.

• More Consumer Choices: A community filled with local businesses is the best route to innovation and lower prices over the long run, as well as more product choices.

• Reduce Environmental Impacts: Local purchases require less shipping and packaging and tend to be in city commercial centers, not in sprawling areas on the outskirts of the city. People also tend to walk more in locally owned business areas.

• Better Customer Service: They know your name and care about you more. They can also more easily tailor their sales strategies to local concerns.

• Use Less Public Infrastructure: The study found that big-box retailers generated a fiscal deficit of -$426 per 1,000 square feet in the infrastructure that is provided for them with tax dollars due to the false notion that chain outlets "provide jobs." Local businesses generated $326 per $1,000 square feet.

• Promote Entrepreneurship: Local businesses help attract professionals and talented college graduates to an area who then turn around and create innovative new businesses. The Small Business Association of Michigan advised their state to promote "economic gardening" to focus on strengthen small businesses rather than trying to recruit national retailers. Local businesses are a primary attraction for a good work force who crave unique restaurants, bars, galleries and shops. Supporting local business, in turn, helps attract innovators and skilled workers so pat yourself on the back next time you fill your grocery cart at McDade's. It matters to us all.


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