By Fran Johnson, publisher Harford’s Heart Magazine
Beginning with its inaugural issue in early 2005, Harford’s Heart Magazine has been encouraging its readers to Keep it Local, enumerating the ways that shopping in local stores, eating from local farms, and obtaining services from local businesses strengthens the local economy. Dollars spent in local-owned businesses have three times the impact on the community as dollars spent at national chains. Shopping locally helps create jobs and fund more public services through sales tax, while providing community development. Ninety-one percent of local business owners (most of whom are local residents) contribute to their community, by volunteering and making donations to schools, non-profits and community groups. Local business owners focus on customer service and respond to the needs and desires of the local community. Local stores require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores. By helping to sustain compact town centers, a strong local economy helps contain development, while reducing automobile use, habitat loss and water and air pollution.
The cultural benefits of keeping it local may be even more important than the economic impact. Most Americans are nostalgic for “Mayberry” – a safe, clean and friendly community where people feel connected to one another, where neighbors look out for one another, and where shop keepers know their ‘regular’ customers. We want the security and peace of mind that comes from the sense of community that can only develop over time. By keeping it local – patronizing local services, shopping at local stores, eating in local restaurants – even ‘newcomers’ can quickly feel integrated into a community. Keeping it local gives us access to the people and personalities who create the character of the community. Learning about the unique services, amenities, traditions, and history of the place we live plays a large factor in our satisfaction with where we live and the value of our home and property.
Each issue of Harford’s Heart includes spotlights businesses that are Hidden in Plain Sight, with Business Profiles, and with stories on the Tried and True businesses, community groups and institutions that contribute to the character of Harford County. In addition to sponsoring community events, the magazine supports the local arts community with articles on local bands and musicians and local authors; a painting by a local artist is featured on the cover of every issue.
The philosophy and practice of Keeping it Local is enjoying a wider appeal: Harford County Division of Agriculture encourages us to Support Local Farms; Governor O’Malley urges us to Eat Local; County Exec Craig reminds us to Buy Local! Keeping it Local connects residents, businesses, and community groups; Harford’s Heart Magazine strengthens those connections. We’re also connected through our website, www.harfordsheart.com, which includes our comprehensive Calendar of Events, listing hundreds of ways to Keep it Local, and through our presence on FaceBook.
Of course, Keeping it Local is about more than just shopping local and attending local events – it’s also about being informed on local issues. Harford’s Heart has partnered with The Dagger, the county’s online news source, to bring our readers a taste of the wide variety of “news with an edge” from The Dagger’s staff of well-informed reporters, connected with community groups and local residents. At the same time, Harford’s Heart will provide articles in The Dagger with more reasons, more opportunities, and more ways to Keep it Local.
Whether you pick up a free copy of Harford’s Heart at one of the hundreds of locations throughout the county, read the online version, follow us on FaceBook, or join the discussion at The Dagger, see why Harford’s Heart is your premier magazine for keeping it local and living it local in Harford County.