Why Local First?
Really, what's the big deal?
So let's talk about coffee. Since we must import coffee into Colorado, you may be wondering if it really matters where you buy your daily cup o Joe. It may seem that spending $3 at a national chain is the same as spending $3 at a local coffee shop, but your spending choices have a profound impact on your own local economy and community.
We've uncovered 3 underlying threads that distinguish your local coffee shop from the national chain.
- Economic Multiplier Effect
Businesses in your town buy more often from other businesses in your town, which recirculates more money in your region. Hooray! Since business owners live right there in your community, the profits stay in your economy.
Purchasing goods made closer to home reduces fossil fuel use and shortens the supply chain, keeping you more connected to where and how your goods are produced.
Local entrepneurs are more connected to your community and more likely to support community projects, because just like you, they also have hobbies, go to events, volunteer, dine at their favorite restaurants, and donate to their favorite charities.
According to the 2012 survey by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, when you choose to do business locally, you are indeed making an impact. And that impact is happening at its best in the communites like ours that have embraced Local First.
- 65% of respondents reported revenue growth in 2012, more than in 2011 or 2010.
- 68% of respondents thought awareness of the benefits of "going local" had increased in the previous year.
- 75% of respondents with an Local First or similar initiative in their community recognized benefit to their businesses.
- Independent businesses in communities with Local First iniatives and similarly-modeled grassroots groups reported an average revenue increase of 8.6%, compared to 3.4% among other independents.
Studies & Research on Local First
Numerous studies have been conducted in the past decade comparing the impact of locally owned businesses to non-local businesses. The study Local Works! Examining the Impact of Local Business on the West Michigan Economy says: a modest change in consumer behavior - a mere 10 percent shift in market share to independent businesses from chain stores - would result in 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in wages, and a $137 million economic impact to the area.
Research and studies available through:
- Study: Local Works! Examining the Impact of Local Business on the West Michigan Economy, September 2008, by Civic Economics Download the study now (.pdf)
- Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is a national organization that supports local business networks in over 65 cities in the US and Canada.
- The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics.
Or find these books at your nearest local book store:
- The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition, by Michael H. Shuman
- Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben