Everyone wants their local economy to be vibrant and strong, but with the global recession, it’s harder and harder to figure out how to do keep it going. It’s also tempting to give in and buy everything from Wal-Mart, who promise low prices and seem to have a new store opening everywhere, all the time. But don’t do it! The first step in helping your local economy is to shop at small, local businesses… and there are a lot more things you can do, too. Here are 7 ways to boost your local economy.
1. Shop Local
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This doesn’t mean shopping at the Wal-Mart that just happens to be closest to you. This means shopping at local small businesses, like farmer’s markets, mom and pop restaurants, and anything that’s not a large chain. My favorite local business is Shine, a tiny boutique in Royal Oak, Michigan that sells jewelry, home goods, gifts, and candles. I’m sure if you look, you’ll find a Shine-type shop near you! And every dollar you spend at your own Shine-type store stays local, strengthening your own local economy.
2. Bank Local
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Banking with a local credit union is another great way to keep your own economy strong, but even better, credit unions often have higher interest rates on CDs, lower interest rates for loans, and they often pay dividends to their members each year. Bonus!
3. Work Local
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If you work near where you live, not only will you save commute time and fuel money, you’ll also help keep your economy going. That’s because employers often pay taxes and other fees to local governments, and if you work in an area, you’ll spend money there, too. Think about it: you’ll eat lunch nearby, shop nearby, use day-care and cry cleaning and other service nearby… it all adds up to an improved economic outlook.
4. Keep Your Kids in School
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Keeping your children in local public schools is another way to boost your local economy. Keeping your kids in school means the teachers, custodians, bus drivers, lunch moms, and everyone else stays working, and it also means your tax dollars get spent in a way you like — at school!
5. Leverage the Library
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Libraries are amazing places! Sure, they have books, but did you know they also host special events, and some even have book sales? Visit your library often, and see what’s going on there for you, your friends, and your family. Chances are, most of the special events will help promote a local business, vendor, or even a local author!
6. Get Involved
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If you want to decide, or at least have a say, in how your local tax dollars are spent, then you need to get involved. Run for city or town council, or sit on the school board, or just at least attend meetings to have your say.
7. Spread the Word
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If you’ve had a great experience with a local business, tell your friends and family! Most small businesses can’t afford to spend a lot of money on advertising, so they depend on their loyal customers and clients to spread the word. Some even offer discounts when you refer new customers... it’s a win-win!
Those are just a handful of the ways you can help improve your local economy, and keep it strong. I make an effort of spend my money locally, with small businesses, especially at farmer’s markets. I know every dollar I spend makes a difference, and it feels so good! Which of these things do you do, or plan to do, to keep your local economy booming? Or do you have other ideas? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: Netfalls