Making the Case for Local

With North Dakota facing a labor shortage, the case for local businesses and job creation seems irrelevant. But there are numerous other reasons to support and attract local businesses in your community.

Prosperity- Because local businesses spend more of their money locally, they generate a stronger “economic multiplier effect” giving the entire community more “bang for their buck.”

Social Mobility- Local businesses create more opportunities for entrepreneurship, which then provides market-based ladders for the disadvantaged to move out of poverty.

Tourism- One-of-a-kind stores, restaurants and shops give a community character and authenticity which attracts nonlocal customers like tourists.

Smart Growth- The smaller size of local businesses can facilitate mixed-use neighborhoods and walkable communities.

Social Responsibility- The presence of local owners in your community means they are more susceptible to community values by other stakeholders— consumers, investors, workers, suppliers — for responsible corporate behavior.

Civil Society- Sociological research shows that communities with a density of local businesses have a stronger civil society and that their members are more involved in politics, volunteering and citizen-led change.

What's Local?

We’re frequently asked by community leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners, “So what businesses are considered local?” In rural communities the short answer is, the ones your community supports, has a relationship with or needs in order to maintain quality of life. Frequently, however, folks want a specific definition. They’re worried that the nationally or regionally owned chain store in their community doesn’t meet the definition of local. The questions continue into details, like, “what if the manager is local? what if the employees are local? what if the community is completely reliant on those goods and services and no one else is offering them?” So, let’s take a look at the core principles behind localism.

1)      Spending and keeping money in the community to create greater independence and self-reliance

2)      Using that money in the community to create jobs, increase quality of life, support local community services, increase amenities, support education and foster community connection and pride!

There’s no question that independently-owned businesses are far more effective at supporting the principles above. So yes, those businesses should be supported, encourage and solicited whenever possible. But each community should also identify all the businesses that build and sustain the principles of localism. Rural communities should educate themselves about the corporate practices and long-term effect that a national or regional chain store will have on and IN their community. Corporations that answer to shareholders in far off places usually don’t have the local interests on their radar and their decisions are only made on the bottom line. To achieve the Local Effect, communities need to consider long-term impacts such as connection to the community, health and well-being of residents, the cost of social services and who is really footing the bill. If your community is undecided about localism because of valuable businesses in the community that aren’t independently and/or locally owned, ask yourself if that business supports your community values and overall vision of what you want your community to become.

Connecting to Your Community By Honoring the Past

Most of us know and understand there is a multiplier effect associated with spending your money with local businesses and keeping that money circulating in the local economy. But just focusing on where we spend our money would be short-sighted in understanding how localism works and what it does for us as individuals and as a community. GoLocal! ND is about all things local. It’s about the local connections and relationships we build within the communities where we live, raise our families, volunteer and socialize. It’s about recognizing our connectedness and how much we love the community we live in.

With Memorial Day coming up, GoLocal! is about the men and women in our own communities who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country. Our connection to these men and women is often overlooked and can be taken for granted. We live free of tyranny and dictatorship because of these amazing individuals who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today!

Here are some suggestions for Going Local! this Memorial Day.

1) Visit a cemetery in your community. Do a little clean up. Find a Veteran’s headstone, jot down the name and then do a little research on that Vet to learn more about them.

2) Share a story about a Veteran from your family or community who gave their lives in service to our country. Share it on social media or in response to this blog.

3) Fly the American Flag in your yard and at your business.

4) Find out the significance of poppies and how they became the symbol of sacrifice for those who gave their lives in battle.

Honoring those who sacrificed their lives is very much a Local thing. Remembering and learning about these remarkable men and women will enrich our lives and make us feel more connected and at home in the communities where we live.

Whatever your community does to celebrate and honor Memorial Day, get out and participate! Be a part of your community and GoLocal!