By Susan Odum Extension Educator Community & Economic Development University of Illinois Extension
If you have picked up a newspaper, turned on the television or radio or surfed the internet lately you have probably heard of the buzz words “Buy Local”. Buy Local is often closely related to a locally grown foods initiative; however, the overall philosophy is much broader than local foods and a clearer understanding of the term can help us better understand the impact of our buying patterns on the economic vitality of our own communities.
Community members don’t like to see local businesses close their doors or to see vacant buildings scattered throughout the community; however, it is rare that community members consider that their own buying patterns may have attributed to those very losses.
In this current economic crisis, it is more important than ever that we all make a conscious decision to support our local business communities, whenever possible. Buying local contributes to the recirculation of monies in the local community, in turn, slowing down the drain of resources out of the local community. Plus, buying goods locally enhances sales tax revenues in the community, which further supports our municipalities and county governments. The money you spend to purchase even the smallest of items, such as a gallon of gas, a box of detergent or a carton of milk can have a direct impact on your local community. Increasingly, cost conscious shoppers are opting to drive outside of the local community, and perhaps even the State, to save a few cents on items that can be purchased locally. As a result, they are unconsciously attributing to a downward cycle which negatively impacts the local business community, the local job market, local real estate markets and the local tax base.
Is a bargain really a bargain if it negatively impacts local employment and wages, the local tax base, and ultimately even our local schools? Spending locally keeps money in the community; helps to retain existing jobs; creates an environment for new jobs; generates local sales tax revenue; provides support for local charities, schools and youth programs; gives people a reason to visit and spend money in the community; and contributes to further growth of the business community.
While it is apparent that there are several things that one simply cannot buy in the “hometowns” here in rural Illinois, as a citizen, it is important to analyze your buying patterns and look beyond the cost for opportunities to “shift your shopping” in support of your local business community and your State.
As consumers, we have the power to shape the future of our communities. If we don’t support our own local business communities, who will? So, please do your part to help shift market share back to your local communities by buying local, so it is not Bye Bye Local.
MARION CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2305 West Main St PO Box 307 Marion, Illinois 62959