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The Imperative of Keeping Dollars Local: A Matter of Survival

26 February 2024

George Bernard Shaw’s words echo with profound relevance today: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” In the backdrop of COVID-19 and current economic condition, it is imperative for small and mid-sized communities to retain their local dollars, it is no longer just a nice thing to do, it has become a choice between extinction and one of survival.

 

The impact of shopping local goes far beyond convenience; it is the lifeblood of community resilience. Consider the ripple effect: if each resident increased their monthly local spending by a mere $25, the annual infusion coupled with the compounding of that spending into the local economy would range between $9,000,000 to $21,000,000 in a community of only 10,000 residents. This surge in local spending not only fosters economic growth but also fortifies the social fabric by bolstering employment, local entrepreneurship, and community development initiatives.

 

Moreover, the current onslaught of government regulations is disproportionately impacting small businesses, the backbone of local economies. While corporate behemoths are better equipped to weather the storm, local Main Street face the brunt of impact and restrictions, jeopardizing livelihoods, and destabilizing communities. The fallacy started during COVID by labeling these small businesses as "non-essential," neglecting the interconnectedness of livelihoods, supply chains, and economic stability. The repercussions reverberate beyond shuttered storefronts, impacting income streams, employment opportunities, and consumer spending across the board.

 

The compelling case for keeping dollars local is underscored by empirical evidence spanning the nation. Once-thriving towns now languish as mere shadows of their former selves, casualties of neglecting Main Street in favor of Wall Street. The erosion of local economies not only manifests in economic decline but also manifests in social malaise, with dwindling civic engagement, rising poverty rates, and escalating crime statistics.

 

In the face of the accelerating exodus of dollars from local communities precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, swift and decisive action is imperative. The trajectory is clear: towns on the brink of prosperity risk descent into economic oblivion, exacerbating existing disparities and amplifying social discord. Urgent intervention is non-negotiable to stem the hemorrhage of local wealth and preserve community vitality.

 

Community leaders must seize the reins of change, marshaling a coalition of stakeholders to confront this existential challenge head-on. A multifaceted approach is indispensable, encompassing policy advocacy, community mobilization, and strategic partnerships. Collaborative initiatives such as citywide promotions, business incubation programs, and targeted marketing campaigns can galvanize local patronage and invigorate economic activity.

 

The blueprint for revitalizing Main Street lies in proactive engagement and innovative solutions. While the road ahead may be fraught with challenges, the stakes are too high for complacency. Every community possesses the agency and ability to rewrite its narrative, reclaiming its economic sovereignty and nurturing a resilient ecosystem of local enterprise.

 

The time for action is not tomorrow, not next week or not next month, the time for action is now. The storm clouds of continued economic pain are on the horizon, delay is not a luxury communities can afford as the specter of economic storm clouds loom large. Let us heed the clarion call to action, uniting in our resolve to safeguard the future of our communities for our children and grandchildren. Together, we can build not just Main Street, but a future anchored in local prosperity and shared prosperity.

 

John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Speaker, & Publisher. He consults with Chambers, Communities, Business & Media. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column appears in 60+ newspapers and media outlets. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists chambers, communities, media, and businesses in creating synergies that build vibrant communities. He can be reached at: John@Truly-Local.org.