By Tracey Glenn
Buy Local. Two little words we hear often. But why and what do they really mean?
The Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce often encourages both our members and the community to buy local. The Cape Chamber is an area organization and for us, buying local means buying from businesses -- mom and pop stores and big box stores -- located in our regional area instead of from the Internet or places out of our area.
Among the numerous reasons that buying local is critical is basic economic development. We need a strong local economy if we want to maintain and enhance the diverse business environment we have in the Cape Girardeau area. What do I mean by that? It's important for a community to have many different types of businesses, which means there are many different types of job skills needed, creating a range of job opportunities for the community. Having a diverse economy also allows for varying highs and lows and is crucial to the success of a community. When one sector of the economy may be experiencing a downturn, another sector may be experiencing an uptick. When you buy local, you help to ensure that the diverse range of businesses remain intact for our community.
A diverse range of businesses is also considered by businesses and industry which may be looking to locate a new facility in our area. If there is a thriving local economy, it usually means there is a great quality of life for residents. This is important because it provides a reason for workers to relocate here with that new business, and a good sized pool of potential workers for that new business or industry.
Another major reason to buy local is to support the community in which you live or work. When you buy local, the sales tax you pay on the product goes back into the community. The city, for example, uses that sales tax money to provide police and fire protection, trash service and parks and recreation offerings, among other things. The county uses sales tax to fund things like road and bridge construction and repair, among other things.
When you shop at a local merchant, your money will also go back into the local economy. The mom and pop shop owner will purchase goods and services with that money. The local big box managers and employees will purchase goods and services for their own families with the money they earn working there. Businesses in our community also tend to support the local charities and not-for-profit organizations, which assist community members in need.
Another reason to purchase locally is the relationship you develop and the expertise you will garner from that relationship. Local shops generally will spend more time with a customer to make sure the product they are purchasing fits the need the consumer is trying to meet. And, after the sale, the local business employees are close at hand if further assistance or advice is needed.
For all of these reasons and many more, the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce encourages you to shop and buy local.
Tracey Glenn is the vice president for organization and leadership development at the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce.