Gary Anglin: Why ‘buy local’ is more than just a catchy slogan

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This article is taken from The Gainesville Sun.

To read this article on the The Gainesville Sun’s website please click on the link below:

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100906/OPINION03/9061000?p=all&tc=pgall

The members of OUR TOWN want everyone in the Gainesville community to remember how important small and local businesses are to sustaining our communities.

OUR TOWN is a non-profit corporation founded to promote locally owned independent businesses. It belongs to the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Non-profits like OUR TOWN exist all across the country.

If you’ve heard Austin’s catchphrase, “Keep Austin Weird,” then you’ve heard from AMIBA. OUR TOWN gives small, local business owners a place to discuss issues of common interest and to have a voice in the local dialog.

People like small business. A study by the Pew Research Center released in April found that small business is the most positively viewed institution in the U.S.

Why is this? Old time Main Street family businesses, like Wise’s Drug Store and Martin’s Appliances, embody the traditional values and neighborly attitudes we trust most.

The independent business owner is usually more invested in our city than big business and his or her success can have lasting benefits.

Unlike the chain and big box stores, local business owners hire local accountants, lawyers, architects and builders. They bank locally. They are active members of our neighborhoods and our charitable organizations and are involved in local politics.

Family members may take over the store when the founders retire, often through several generations. The longevity of successful independent businesses can have a profound and enduring beneficial effect on our local economy and our neighborhoods.

In 2002 Civic Economies studied the local multiplier effect of money spent in Austin. They found that $100 spent in chain bookstores resulted in $13 of local economic impact, while $100 spent at locally owned bookstores brought $45 to the local economy.

Other studies done since then consistently show locally owned businesses provide a local economic impact two to four times greater than chain stores. Most big store receipts leave town to pay for supplies, headquarters offices, executive salaries and profits elsewhere.

Too often it is the big store that gets a break from local governments. Why should the city give big stores exceptions to planning and zoning rules local businesses must meet? Because they have architects and lawyers who keep coming back? Because they provide some low paying jobs for a few years?

Research done by MIT and the Small Business Administration dating back to 1979 has consistently shown that two-thirds of the net new jobs in the private sector are created by small businesses.

Independent businesses help give our community its one-of-a-kind personality. The buildings and storefronts of our small stores and restaurants reflect the character of our neighborhoods. The casual encounters you enjoy at these businesses and the public spaces around them build relationships and local cohesiveness. Local business develops and maintains community character.

Independent, community serving businesses are people-sized. They use little land and are located close to residents, creating only modest traffic and pollution.

Local businesses put less demand on our roads, sewers, and police and fire protection services than most chains and generate more tax revenue per sales dollar, helping keep your taxes lower. They also spend more of their revenue supporting local arts organizations than do big stores.

Quality and service are two big reasons to shop local. If you need something and your only consideration is price, perhaps a chain store is the answer. But maybe you want a quality product and need advice in deciding what to select.

Wouldn’t you prefer to deal with a knowledgeable salesperson who will be there next time you shop? You can find that kind of service when you visit your neighbor’s locally owned business.

Think local first and you and the whole community will benefit. Vote local with your purchase dollars. We have a one-of-a-kind community and today’s decisions, planning and otherwise, can affect our city for generations.

We hope you will visit the OUR TOWN website (ourtowngainesville.com) to learn more and add to the discussion. Even better, if you own a local business or are someone who supports them, please join us.

Gary Anglin is president of OUR TOWN and president of Anglin Construction.

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