Networking: Supporting local businesses is fundamental

Bill Christopher

Choosing a local business whenever possible is what allows communities to continue to grow and prosper, both financially and socially. One of the philosophies of the Chamber is that without a strong and growing business environment there will not be a strong sense of community and without a strong sense of community there cannot be a strong and growing business environment. The strong tie the two appears obvious but today’s highly digital world is creating challenges.

You can get almost everything you need to exist without ever leaving your couch by just using your smartphone: food, clothing, insurance, furniture, and even cars now. There have been multiple studies that show a dollar spent with a local business returns three times the value to the local economy as compared to a dollar spent buying the same thing online.

It may seem obvious but think about what happens to the dollar you hand to a local merchant. You are creating more jobs and more spending in our economy because independent businesses employ more people per dollar of revenue earned than large online stores.

Local businesses are also consumers themselves and they utilize that dollar on other local services like accountants, attorneys, wholesalers, farms, construction companies, etc. thus expanding opportunities for other local entrepreneurs to grow. The growth of the business sector increases the tax base for the local economy thus decreasing the need for increases in local taxes while providing more services.

Basically, buying local helps to grow the local economy at a faster and more sustainable rate.
It is clear that populations with a strong sense of Community have the ability to thrive in good economic times and still do well in bad economic times.

The simple act of spending time out in the community, shopping locally, will increase the number of casual encounters you have with your neighbors, thus allowing you to improve and broaden your overall relationships. Compared to large national businesses, local businesses contribute twice as much per dollar of revenue earned to local events, not-for-profits and children’s sports teams.

This investment supports the growth of many social aspects required for a strong sense of community. Local businesses are what give our community its distinct personality and that is what will draw visitors in to spend their dollars here – providing for more growth.

These combined actions create an environment that provides a sense of pride for the community in which we live and work. Increased sense of pride will encourage more of our young talent to consider staying in the area and will provide a new source of employees and entrepreneurs to keep the cycle of growth in motion.

This is not to suggest we try to become a self-sustaining, isolated community but rather work toward a better balance. The next time you are thinking about making a purchase – think locally first – it makes a world of difference in our community.

You can go onto the Chamber website, www.dorchesterchamber.org, to search for local businesses that are investing in making Dorchester County a strong and growing business community.

Editor’s note: Mr. Christopher is the President and CEO of the Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce. His column appears on the first Wednesday of every month in this publication.

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