The Economic Benefits of Buying Local

Riversiders recently find themselves discussing questions about local agriculture and urban farming. “What kind of potential does a sustainable food system hold for our community? Why should I buy local when chain stores are often cheaper?” Although the answers to these questions may vary depending on who you are talking to, the economic benefits of buying local are pretty clear cut.

When you buy local, your money stays local, and it strengthens the local economy in two ways. First, buying local fuels new employment and job opportunities for people within the community. Studies show, locally owned businesses employ more people per unit of sales, and retain more employees. For example, during the previous economic recession, a study by American Economic Review found that from 2008 to 2009 the employment growth rate of large employers fell 1.65 % more than the growth rate of local employers[1]. Furthermore, the expansion and growth of local businesses helps create a more stable, recession resistant local economy and community alike.

Second, buying local keeps money circulating within the local economy. Cash flow is vital for prosperity and local businesses recirculate a greater share of every dollar, as they create locally owned supply chains and invest in their employees. An additional study found that local retailers return a total of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared to just 14 percent for the national chain retailers.[2] Money circulating through the local economy benefits everyone who receives a transaction. As an example, let’s look at a local farmer growing produce. First they could sell it to a local restaurant, which in turn prepares the fresh produce and sells it to customers. The restaurant uses said sales to buy supplies at a local hardware store. This example illustrates the recirculation of money in the local economy, leading to a stronger financial foundation.

So, when confronted with the myth that one should buy from a chain store instead of a local one because of their offering of lower prices, take note of the greater and direct economic benefits for to the local community from buying local.  These long-term benefits, generated from buying local is an investment in your own community might be worth a few more cents.

If you haven’t already picked up a ticket, be sure to take advantage of the early bird special for the 3rd Annual GrowRIVERSIDE Conference: Cultivating Our Future.

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