Capital City Buying Local

Nothing is more important to small business owners than success, and our nation’s economic security depends upon us creating a climate in which these small businesses can succeed. Considering that more than 95 percent of all business in the USA is considered “small business,” supporting them must be a collective priority.

In Providence, economic development is and has been a top priority of mine. As Mayor of the state’s capital city, I know how important it is to create a climate that helps small business. Beginning with the adoption of a 20-point plan to “Put Providence to Work,” we have taken the first critical steps to expanding our business base by eliminating regulatory burdens, holding the line on commercial taxes, removing the barriers to redevelopment, and providing small businesses the technical and financial tools they need to grow.

And while success is an individual measure for large and small, typically, meeting the bottom-line – whether it’s registered in the thousands or the millions of dollars – affects directly how many people are hired and how much they’re paid, where we innovate, what product lines are started or expanded, and where companies locate. Their success becomes our success.

For the small business owner, whose numbers are most often defined at the all-important, end-of-year holiday sales time, we can play a role; that’s why for the past nine years, Providence has sponsored a Buy Providence campaign, and why we added Buy Art as a feature of it several years later. It is a notion that is catching hold across the city, state, and nation.

The restaurants, shops, and markets on Main Street provide us with essential (and non-essential) goods and services. Sixty-four percent of the net new jobs created between 1993 and 2011 came from small firms, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. They are also the folks who hire our friends, our family members, our neighbors; who spend money within our neighborhoods and improve the very quality of life of it, and who generate the revenues that support government, returning services back into our communities.

Buying from local retailers and local artists provides a bigger boost to our local economy than spending money at big-box, out-of-state, and online retailers.

eLocal estimates that when 65 cents of every dollar is spent in local stores, that money is reinvested in the community, compared with about 34 cents of every dollar spent in national chains. And unless you are buying from a local artist on Etsy or similar websites, most online shopping returns nothing to our neighborhoods.

The multiplier effect of shopping locally is even greater. Every dollar spent locally yields $5 in additional new wages, taxes, and purchases of materials and goods at other small, local shops and suppliers.

By shopping in Wayland Square, Olneyville Square, Hope Street, South Main Street, Broad Street, or any of our city and state commercial and retail districts, you are helping create jobs and generating spending that is often spent close to home.

When you have a choice this holiday season, I’d ask you to think about how critical small businesses within your community and neighborhood are. Think about the difference they make in the lives of our residents, and the gaping hole they would leave if they could not survive. And then think about where you will spend your holiday shopping money.

Happy Holidays!

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