You've no doubt seen the decals in store windows. The apparent message is, "let's support local business," a kind of community boosterism. But the benefits of buying close to home may be more than just feeling good. At the most basic level, buying locally means that money stays in the community to create local jobs, support local investment and preserve the unique character of our community. And there is more!
Several studies have shown that when you buy from a local business, rather than a shop in another town or online, significantly more of that money is used to make purchases from other local businesses and service providers, creating a domino effect that can strengthen the economic base of the community. Small, local businesses are the largest group of employers in Berwyn and nationally. In turn, they provide the most number of jobs to our residents. Your local purchases pay local salaries. As local businesses grow, they often hire locally, just as they tend to spend locally. In addition, our local nonprofit organizations receive a large percentage of their support from local business owners, next to nothing from shops outside of town and literally nothing from the online community. These local nonprofits provide services, entertainment and support for the local community and are essential elements of the culture of this place.
Where we shop, eat and have fun makes Berwyn unique. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of our distinctive local character. A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their unique businesses and distinctive character. Because local businesses cater to the cultural base of their communities, residents can find new adventure in a familiar environment. One-of-a-kind, independent businesses are vital to the diverse character of our business environment.
Maybe it’s not possible to buy everything locally. There are items we may need to buy from some other place. But when it comes to supporting our local economy, a little change really does go a long way. If we all shift just 10 percent of our purchases to local businesses, the results can be dramatic. As this positive change takes hold, we can create new jobs, encourage new investment and enhance our lives. We all play an important role in the economic and cultural future of our community, be a positive part of it.
Jon Fey is the board president of the Berwyn Development Corporation