By Susan Odum Extension Educator Community & Economic Development University of Illinois Extension
In rural Illinois, we often hear the term “the good ole days.” While the decade of reference may differ for each of us, the overall concept remains the same, a time we remember fondly generally centered on friends, family and community. In “the good ole days” your local business district was the heart of your community and your first choice for buying needed goods and services. It was home to a vibrant downtown with a variety of grocery stores, car dealerships, jewelry stores, clothing stores, restaurants, lumber yards and hardware stores scattered throughout.
As local buying patterns continue to support the growth of big box retailers located in regional shopping destinations and online shopping continues to grow, many of the businesses in our downtowns and main streets throughout Illinois are faced with an uncertain future.
As more and more dollars flow out of the local community, fewer and fewer dollars will circulate locally to support the local business community, the local economy and local government services. As this happens, fewer and fewer local businesses will remain and more of our rural communities will be destined to become the new “ghost towns” of Illinois. While we can’t return to the ‘old’ good ole days, we can make a conscious decision to shop locally in support of our local business community. Each time we shop locally we are saying YES to a strong vibrant local economy and demonstrating that we value our community and its businesses. If each of us would make a commitment to purchase more things locally, we can start a trend that will create a win-win situation for us, the local business community, the local economy and our local governments, also known as “the good ole days.”
As consumers, we have the power to shape the future of our community, so if you love your community; take pride in it and support it by buying local whenever possible.
MARION CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2305 West Main St PO Box 307 Marion, Illinois 62959