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Building the local economy
By Jessica David / November 30, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

I spent last Tuesday on a bus with 15 other Rhode Islanders. We visited Ocean State Job Lot in Providence, the Hope & Main food business incubator in Warren, Mission restaurant in Newport, Schartner Farms in Exeter, the shops of Wickford Village, and Foolproof Brewing Company in Pawtucket. Our goal was to spread the Buy Local RI message across the state.

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Thanks to those who spent their day with us and the merchants who opened their doors. Normally, spending a full day shopping would be hard work! But the charming and eclectic retailers and cafes of Wickford spoke to my New Englander's heart. We witnessed the resilience of the Schartner family, third generation farmers rebuilding after a devastating fire earlier this year. Foolproof has expanded twice already in its three year history and is fiercely (and appropriately) proud of its role in Pawtucket's “beer renaissance.” The owners of Mission hustled to meet our large order while providing the lunchtime crowd with friendly service and amazing food. The young businesses at Hope & Main are growing smart, supporting one another as they follow their individual paths to market. And you really can find anything at Ocean State Job Lot, a company that gives back enormously.

We also learned from our passengers that Rhode Islanders (and their companies) want to support local businesses. They were curious and even honored to connect personally with the entrepreneurs. Delta Dental of RI CEO Joe Nagle is a steadfast and enthusiastic proponent of buying local! Under his leadership, Delta Dental has assessed all of their purchases and shifted some of their spending to local options.

This is not surprising, as economies are local. Prosperity for Rhode Island starts at the local level, in our relationships with the businesses employing our residents, shaping our community spaces, and giving back. Rhode Islanders are the best supporters of the Rhode Island economy.

That’s why one of our strategies for our economic security initiative is to promote our assets and enlist advocates. Buy Local RI is one way we do this. Buy Local RI strives to build a strong economy and vibrant community by promoting locally owned independent businesses, strengthening our state’s merchant and commercial associations, and providing a resource where businesses and individuals can connect to local products and services.

Why buy local? Here are five good reasons:

  1. Support good jobs. Small local businesses are Rhode Island’s largest employer. Local small business is the greatest source of job creation.
  2. Keep your money in the Rhode Island economy longer. Local businesses keep your money her longer, investing in local supplies, wages, services, and community donations. This strengthens Rhode Island’s economic and tax base. A study found that $100 spent at a local store produced $57 worth of local economic activity, while $100 at a national chain keeps only $13 local.
  3. Shape the character of our community. Where we shop, where we eat and have fun – all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses make up Rhode Island’s distinctive character. Spend local and embrace our unique identity.
  4. Feel good about your purchases. Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community and are invested in the community’s future. By getting to know them, you build trust and a connection to your neighbors. Plus, local businesses often take more time to get to know customers, meaning better service for you.
  5. Reduce environmental impact. Locally owned businesses make more local purchases – meaning less transportation, lower energy and fuel costs, and less excessive packaging.

Of course, we recognize that buying local might not always be an option. But when it is, we hope you'll consider shifting a percentage — even 10% — of your spending to local businesses. If you’re looking for a particular item or service, visit BuyLocalRI.org . Check out our list of upcoming holiday events to support your local neighborhood and explore new territory. And buying local is not just for individuals, and it's not just for the holiday season.

I think you'll find that there is a joy and pride in knowing the people who make and sell the things you purchase.

 

 

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