By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
It’s time to for the “kick off” of the Super Bowl of economics—the “Buy Local” movement. It’s the local businesses versus the big corporations that haul money out of town by the stadium full.
Join us next Thursday, Jan. 20, at the very cool and new Rawkspace, 300 E. State St., third floor, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Why should you be there?
DO THE MATH! Every $100 spent with a non-local business equals $57 LEAVING our local economy, and only $43 STAYS in our local economy. Final sum: more money LEAVES!
Again, DO THE MATH! For every $100 spent with a local business, only $32 LEAVES our local economy, and $68 STAYS in our local economy. Final sum: More money STAYS in our local economy when we BUY LOCAL! Touchdown!
Sport, corny as they seem, you may wonder about all the capitals in the text above. Well, they’re an illustration of what we’re talking about here, capital, as in money available for local businesses, credit unions and banks to loan out for appliances, cars, mortgages and small business loans—TO YOU!
The large corporations’ money goes to their headquarters, out of town. The local businesses’ money stays here, building the reserves of a local credit union or bank—FOR YOU!
Everyone should really want to capitalize our local businesses to build many different local resources.
Local businesses combined employ more people in the area than the total employees of any big box or chain entity; and by and large (pun intended), local businesses have better benefits and more full-time jobs.
Local businesses are much more likely to contribute more and volunteer in greater numbers for local, not-for-profit community organizations and schools than out-of-town owned businesses. Local business owners are your neighbors.
I like doing business with my neighbors.
Even though I shop at Woodman’s, which is local because they are employee-owned and based in Janesville, Wis., in late 2009 and early 2010, Karen and Bob King, owners of Choices Natural Market, and I began to talk about networking small, locally-owned businesses in the Rockford area, and even up and down the Rock River, as part of the Rock River Trail initiative.
As chairman of the Winnebago County Green Business (WCGB) awards, I was very happy when Choices had recently won the small business award for their commitment to carrying organic products. Those products are fine examples of all things green, and Choices promotes education about sustainability. As the WCGB awards’ motto states, “Sustainibility Is Good Business.” An essential part of sustainability is localism that saves on transportation costs and impact; and very importantly, sustainability keeps homegrown money in the local market to improve the local community. Green equals green, as in dollars.
Our two businesses kept one another up to date about different approaches both found to help locally-owned businesses work with each other.
In February 2010, Karen called me and was very excited about a seminar she found being held April 1, 2010, at the University of Wisconsin’s (UW) Madison campus. UW’s Continuing Studies Department was offering a workshop, “Building Community Business Networks for a Local Living Economy.” The cost of the day-long workshop was about $140, and we both said we would try to make it, but neither of us was quite sure about attending because of the demands of our businesses.
April 1, 2010, I was happy to see Karen at the workshop, attended by about 50 people from around the area. The operational model was set up on a county basis, and UW’s Dane County has had their model up and running for quite some time.
Enthused by the knowledge from that meeting, Karen and I started to call various other local business owners we knew to start a committee. The original committee consisted of myself, Karen, Tony and Lauren Artale of Artale Wines, Seth Hueber of SotoEnvy, and Skyler and Lauren Davis of Culture Shock. We met at Sherri’s Place restaurant, 5859 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park. Weekly meetings have continued to be held since then at Sherri’s, Octane, Swilligan’s, Wired Café, Giovanni’s, Aunt Mary’s Restaurants, Bamboo, and other local restaurants.
As a result of the meetings, The Rock River Times and Lauren Vanags Design host and design graphics for the website, winnebagobuylocal.com.
Please join us by discovering and supporting your local businesses. Check out our website for more information and to see our members’ businesses. They’re GREAT!
Speaking of GREAT, go to our Facebook age at http://www.facebook.com/winnebagobuylocal for updates and local comments. The Facebook page was really helpful to local businesses during the holiday season. We hope all that were mentioned join us next Thursday at Rawkspace. You should come by just to see what that unique business is.
Help us “kick off” our “BUY LOCAL” efforts for many seasons to come. Let’s score for some local products and add up some local dollars for ourselves for a change. It’s fun, and it gives you a GREAT feeling to know you’re doing good by buying local. See you soon, neighbors! We have some great stories about buying local you’ll love to hear and some more bad puns. We want to hear yours, too! Bring with you: “Shop Local” ideas; neighboring businesses and staff; business cards and promotional items. It’s a Winter Potluck. Bring your favorite appetizer or beverage (alcohol welcome) of choice. For questions, e-mail us at contact@-winnebago-buylocal.
From the Jan. 12-18, 2011 issue