By Fran Johnson, Publisher, Harford’s Heart Magazine
The 3/50 Project, launched by Cinda Baxter in March 2009, challenges shoppers to think of 3 independent local shops that, in their minds, contribute significantly to the character of their community and to then commit to spend $50 a month in those stores. The commitment isn’t for $50 in each store each month; it’s only for $50 a month, to be spent in locally-owned independent shops.
The Project intends to support local ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses, on the premise that, for every $1 spent in an independently owned business, 68¢ stays in the community through taxes, payroll and support services, in comparison to the 43¢ that would stay in the community for the same $1 spent in a national chain store. Baxter isn’t saying we should NEVER shop in a national chain or that we should boycott the big box stores. She’s reminding us to “Think Local First”, an echo of the “Keep it Local” motto that is central to Harford’s Heart Magazine.
And it’s not just for retail stores and restaurants. Keeping it Local, and Thinking Local First, can apply to professional services as well. Here in Harford County, we have access to respected professionals in banking, financial planning, legal and health care services. We have a wealth of small businesses, realtors, contractors, landscapers, engineers and architects. These business owners are our neighbors and the more we make use of their services, the more we strengthen our connections to our community.
The arguments for Keeping it Local are simply stated:
Patronizing local businesses helps grow other businesses and contributes to the local tax base.
Local business owners are more invested in the community’s welfare and future. They donate more to local charities than non-local owners and they are less likely to leave.
Local owned businesses help define the unique character of the community which is a big factor in your overall satisfaction with where you live and the value of your home and property.
Local business usually locate in the town center, thereby contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution. They require comparatively little infrastructure and can more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores.
Local businesses are the largest employers nationally; the more jobs available in the local community, the fewer people have to commute, resulting in less traffic and pollution.
Whether it’s a local veterinarian for your pet, a local mechanic for your car, a local financial advisor, or a local dentist, Keeping It Local applies as much to services as to retail shops and restaurants.