The mission of Think Local First in Leavenworth & the Upper Wenatchee Valley is “to build a sustainable economy by increasing awareness about the personal, community and economic benefits of choosing local, independently-owned businesses first.” After seeing many familiar faces and sipping on donated local wine in the Barn Beach Reserve River Haus we watched a Bellingham based short docu-film highlighting the processes and successes of supporting locally owned businesses by purchasing their goods and services. The room was packed!
Next, the group was introduced to the board of advisers that were behind the night’s event. We were encouraged to “Think Local First” with each purchase. The idea is that money stays where you spend it. According a handout from the evening, a consulting firm (Civic Economics) found that “when West Michigan consumers choose a locally owned business over a non-local alternative, $68 of every $100 spent stays in the community.” It went on to describe that only $43 stays in the community if spent non-locally and $0 remains when choosing to spend online. Of course, the bottom line here is growth: in activity, jobs, income and community.
The Call To Action! Everyone was encouraged to sign a “10% Shift” pledge by the end of the evening. If you could pledge to spend 10% more of your normal purchases locally then signing the dotted line was not too hard. Living in a small town you’ll find that you can’t get everything in your neighborhood. I happen to know that you can’t process film or purchase a car in Leavenworth, but daily tasks and common services are very easy to manage. The aforementioned handout referenced the same 2008 Kent County, Michigan, study when discussing the power of the 10% shift. Their study estimated that the “10% shift would result in $140 million in new economic activity; 1,600 new jobs, and $50 millions in new wages.” In Chelan County that would mean “$16.8 million in new economic activity; 192 new jobs; and $6 million in new wages.”
I’m up for the challenge! We’re going to make the 10% Shift. I know that whatever we can’t find from local business owners in Leavenworth we can certainly find within Chelan County in Wenatchee. How about you? Can you make the pledge in your town?