Spending locally saves more than money

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

Saving a few dollars will make you feel good for a day or two. Saving a community can provide a lift for an entire lifetime.

Maybe that is overstating the issue a bit, but it is an accurate analogy when it comes to how important it is to spend money as close to home as possible, in the stores and businesses run by your friends and neighbors.

Thousands of Lawrence Countians have or will soon receive sizeable checks from the federal government as part of the nation’s economic stimulus plan. This will provide an influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars that many consumers will maybe spend a little more freely.

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It also prompted The Ironton Tribune to ask a simple question to consumers: Whose economy are you going to stimulate?

The Tribune and the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce have partnered to create a public awareness campaign to emphasize the importance of spending money, and spending it locally.

Nearly two thirds of our nation’s economic activity comes directly from consumer spending and that same concept applies on a local level.

Buy gas here and it is Lawrence County roads that will benefit from the gas tax. Shop here and a percentage of that sales tax goes back to the county. It is impossible to truly measure the exact impact but the data that exists is pretty impressive.

Studies show that every dollar spent in a local business is rolled over and put back into the local economy between 5 and 14 times.

The concept is loosely based on the sociological idea of six degrees of separation; a theory that basically says everyone and everything in the world is connected.

Maybe a local consumer decides to visit his neighborhood hardware store to buy some home improvement goods. Some of the dollars spent will go to a local trucker who hauls goods to and from the store.

But that trucker has to get his insurance somewhere and let’s say he uses the agent who lives down the street.

Let’s suppose that the agent employs at least one local resident who essentially gets “paid” with that original dollar spent.

On the way home from work, the stop at the grocery store, which is locally owned and employs many local people.

And so the chain goes, on and on, touching the lives of countless people.

That is at the heart of the “50 Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Payment” section The Tribune and the Chamber are partnering on.

All the promotional material and news coverage will culminate with this special section that offers affordable advertising options for local businesses that may not be able to afford it otherwise.

Then, readers will have to get involved by combing through the section and each ad, finding the hidden “dollars” and earning the chance to win hundreds of dollars in “Tribune Bucks.”

What’s the catch? These dollars have to be spent locally with the advertisers who are a part of the special section.

The goal is help all involved and make sure that it is OUR economy that sees the benefit from this injection of money.

I said it before, but it merits repeating. How can you put a price on investing in your community?

Making a quick buck doesn’t even compare to making a difference in the lives of your friends, neighbors and loved ones.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.