Shop locally, make an impact

Posted July 31, 2011, at 8:44 p.m.

A Chamber member forwarded me a piece from the Maine-based “Fresh News” blog at the end of last week that had some interesting insight into the impact of shopping locally:

“Buying local could do more good for a local region than government subsidies and tax policies combined. A national study indicates that of $100 spent in local businesses, $73 stays local, while only $43 stays local in out-of-region stores. A study in midcoast Maine in 2003 found ‘big box’ stores spend only 15 percent of their revenue in-state, while local stores spend 55 percent.

“Local companies use local services, such as banks, accounting firms, marketing companies, and buy from local suppliers. It gets even better — money spent locally multiples. The spending of local businesses goes into other businesses’ pockets, which they spend, which goes into more local pockets — etc. until you can get three to five times the impact that cascades from the first purchase.”

Our economy and its consumers have shifted slightly away from major big-box distributors during this recession, and it appears some habits might be permanently changing, which should lead to even more local buying.

Food for thought while shopping thoughtfully for food or other things —

When it comes to finding those local stores and services, did you know there’s a community resource right at your fingertips that with a mouse click or two can connect you with some of the best local service providers across a range of industries? If you are looking for any kind of service — and you want to do the smart thing and keep it local — chances are you’ll find what you need at either www.camdenme.org (Camden area) or www.therealmaine.com (Rockland area).

With members from across the midcoast, the Chamber of Commerce’s online business and service directories connect you with reputable businesses that not only will provide you with the goods or services you need, but also will allow you to support the local economy in a spirit of enlightened self-interest. Click on the “Business Here” link at www.camdenme.org and pick “Find a Business” or “Business Directory” and then “Business Search” on www.therealmaine.com and search away. You also can call the Chamber offices at 236-4404 (Camden area) and 596-0376 (Rockland area). The staff and volunteers would be more than happy to connect you to Chamber members who can best serve your needs.

If you have a business and are not yet a member of a chamber of commerce, I urge you to join one today (any of the local chambers can help you and your business — this isn’t just a pitch for my organization). Chambers exist to support their members and offer a broad variety of tools, programs and services, such as online directories, referrals, business-to-business connections, and advocacy for the role of business in the broader community. Furthermore, local chambers work together on a variety of projects, meaning that a member of one chamber often benefits from a much broader regional network.

Dan Bookham is executive director of the new Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce that combines the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Rockland-Thomaston Area Chambers of Commerce. Contact him at 236-4404 or dbookham@camdenme.org.

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