We wholeheartedly believe that local business is the key to transforming and sustaining our local economy and community. Here are a few reasons why:
Significantly more money recirculates in West Michigan when consumers choose to support our locally owned businesses. Unlike their national competition, locally owned businesses regularly purchase from other local retailers, manufacturers, service providers and farms. Supporting locally owned businesses like yours is vital in growing a strong West Michigan economy and tax base.
Just a 10% shift in consumer spending toward locally owned businesses would create $140 million in new economic activity and 1,600 new jobs in Kent County alone. When West Michigan consumers choose a locally owned business over a non-local alternative, 73% more money stays in the community. For more information about this, please visit “Why Local First?”
Creates a Unique and Engaged Community
It’s obvious that local businesses create a more interesting and walkable downtown, which is great for both residents and for attracting tourists. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that small-scale local ﬁrms increase the retention of residents within a community, fostering a sense of belonging and participating in local affairs.
A strong local business climate directly contributes to a strong economy and residents staying in a community. This is really important when we think about how Michigan is leaching talented college graduates into other states. College students ﬁrst choose where they want to live, then look for a job. They’re looking for walkable cities with local businesses and farmers markets, and Grand Rapids is becoming that place more and more everyday.
Local Businesses Give Back
We know anecdotally that local businesses care about their communities, and we know why - the choices you make as a business owner impact your neighbors and friends. The schools you support and the parks you help clean up are in your community. Business owners want their hometown and neighborhood to thrive. But did you also know that on average, local businesses give back over 350% more than national and chain counterparts?
A recent study conducted by the Community Research Institute found that 85% of local businesses donate to charity. Of those respondents, 57% donated 1-4% of profits, 24% donated 5-9% of profits, and 16% donated 10-49% of profits. That’s really huge! If you really want to feel the warm fuzzies, check out these stories about giving featuring local businesses Eikenhout and Mitten Brewing Co.
5 Ways your Business Can Have an Even Greater Local Impact
You can help contribute to all of the wonderful things mentioned above! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Source your office supplies, restaurant products, or packaging materials from a local supplier.
- When you’re catering a lunch, use a local restaurant or caterer. You’ll impress your clients and spread the local love! Need ideas? Just visit our local directory of food vendors!
- Whether you’re looking to show employee appreciation or incentives, or welcoming new clients, give the gift of local. Gift baskets, chocolate, movie tickets, gift certificates to restaurants or your favorite retail shop...the list is endless! Browse our site for ideas!
- Use local vendors for your legal, accounting, marketing, web development, and other business needs.
- Move your money to a local bank . Although small and mid-sized banks control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, they account for more than half of all small business lending. So when you bank with a local bank or credit union, you know you're also putting your money to work supporting other local businesses in your community.
Samantha Vanderberg is the Marketing Manager at Local First, a West-Michigan non-profit made up of over 800 member businesses dedicated to growing an economy grounded in local ownership. She manages member and community communications, social media, and a team of awesome blog writers. When she’s not at work (or working from her favorite coffee shop), you can find Samantha outside hiking, running, reading, or hanging out on a patio with friends.