The holiday season is upon us and there are many important reasons to make locally-owned businesses the top priority for holiday spending, including the following:
• There is a major return on investment with local businesses, with up to four times more money staying in the local economy when you spend with a local business instead of a national chain and leading to more jobs and revenue right here in Tucson. For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $43 remains in the economy, compared to only $13 spent at a non-locally owned business, according to an Indie Impact Study Series by research firm Civic Economics.
• Extra dollars circulate in the community when the local business owner hires more people and sources locally (such as local accountants, graphic designers, or website developers). These investments ensure additional local job creation and a stronger tax base, preserve the identity of the community and create prosperity with more opportunities and less income inequality.
• If a community the size of Tucson shifted 10 percent of its spending from non-local to local businesses, the shift would have an impact of 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in new wages and $130 million in total economic impact. By shifting as much spending to local businesses as possible starting now during the holidays, your dollars will directly be invested in Tucson.
All of these reasons are vitally important to more equitable growth, especially when the current trends for historic areas such as Bleecker Street in New York City demonstrate that long-standing neighborhood businesses are closing due to sky-high rents that small businesses cannot afford as chains move in. The end result is displacing many local businesses and endangering the historic character of the place. There are many ways to go deeper with investing our local dollars to counter these trends. Local First Arizona works regularly to educate about the larger opportunities such as the benefits of banking locally.
Getting involved with localism groups such as the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition (HFAC) is a direct way to influence localism and smart growth within the community. HFAC is a new organization with a mission to preserve the unique identity of North Fourth Avenue and the surrounding areas while promoting smart, sustainable growth that will benefit these business districts and Tucson as a whole.
There is also the opportunity to give locally to the programs of the Local First Arizona Foundation and foster a stronger local economy while building opportunity in Arizona related to entrepreneurship, sustainability, food systems and more. Your contribution will provide support to the following:
• Empower under-served Latino micro-entrepreneurs through our Fuerza Local Business Accelerator program.
• Generate economic and environmental benefits for locally owned, independent businesses by reducing energy, water, waste and transportation consumption and costs through our SCALE UP program.
• Enrich Arizona's Small Towns by strengthening community and economic development.
"From Pinetop to Douglas and everywhere in between, Arizona rings out with possibility. I'm inspired by our state's entrepreneurial spirit, which I'm fortunate to see in action every day," says Kimber Lanning, the founder of the Local First Arizona Foundation. "We've come a long way in building self-reliance, but there is still much work to be done. With your support, we can continue to move the needle forward and build a state in which everyone has the opportunity to succeed."
The holidays are an ideal time to shift more dollars locally and then continue the shift throughout the year while getting more involved in localism efforts. I look forward to a great year ahead in 2019 with our programs, events, and other opportunities for getting involved in our network and strengthening our local Tucson community.
Michael Peel is the Southern Arizona director of Local First Arizona. Get involved as a member or volunteer of LFA by signing up at www.localfirstaz.com.