December 16, 2009

The benefits of buying local are many

By David Gregg

It is no surprise that chambers of commerce throughout our land are big fans of Adam Smith, the well-known 18th century philosopher and pioneer economist.

After all, Smith not only supported the free market — the view that all markets are self-correcting and that economic recessions were only temporary. His theories also support the intrinsic value of a local economy, or the value of doing business with the local butcher and baker. Today, in the midst of this holiday season, your chamber of commerce attempts once again to advocate buying local.

Our community is much like the village of Smith’s day. There is certain web of economic relationships that link people in a community together. A bank lends money to the store owner that, in turn, provides product for his shoppers that allows him to source other goods from a local manufacturer or farmer. He then hires a service company, an accountant and so on. Numerous studies suggest that every dollar spent at a locally owned business generates two to three times economic benefit measured in income, wealth, jobs and tax revenues.

In a recent column, we discussed how buying locally supports our city and county services and general operations by generating sales tax revenue and that through subsidizing services, we have county property taxes that are lower than 90 percent of all counties in Georgia.

We also often mention your chamber of commerce’s long-standing partnership with local merchants to help shoppers choose local vendors and suppliers to support and sustain the business community and the local economy. This partnership includes the offering of Chamber Checks that make great gifts and can be used at more than 85 locations.

The final benefit we offer to you today is the effect that the buying local option has on our social fabric. It’s certainly more difficult to measure but perhaps easier to understand. Buying locally produced goods and shopping at local businesses has a positive impact on the ties that people feel for the community in which they live and work. The same multiplier effect tied to the economic benefit also applies to the social aspect — the connection one has with their community leads to philanthropy and activism.

These reasons are only a few that we ask that you give strong consideration for shopping local during this holiday season for our local businesses under these challenging economic times. Your Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce wishes Merry Christmas to all and a prosperous holiday season for the butchers and bakers of our community — our local merchants.

David Gregg is chairman of the board of the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce.