Help the Community, Support Local Businesses
This column typically touches on the more obvious ways to commit time and effort to better the Suffolk community. However, in this month's installment, I wanted to draw from a personal experience to highlight how we can all positively impact our community with minimal effort.
When my wife and I began planning our recent wedding, we made a conscious decision to spend our money in the local establishments we have come to love. It was a logical, beneficial, and sentimental commitment. We rented the Planter's Club on the Nansemond River, which is city-owned, and operated by Suffolk Parks and Recreation. We also chose a local baker to create our wedding cake and purchased most of our beer from the Nansemond Brewing Station in Downtown Suffolk. The family-operated Mexican restaurant El Korita will cater the taco bar at our reception. The examples go on and on. Our ultimate goal was to treat our guests and ourselves while supporting our community by purchasing as many local goods and services as possible.
Many of us make similar choices without truly understanding what impact our money has after we spend it. However, it is an important consideration. How will the money we spend impact local businesses and the community in the future?
Interestingly enough, the money spent at small businesses stays in the local economy at a higher percentage rate than money spent at national retail chains. Also, according to the American Independent Business Alliance, small businesses make up nearly 95 percent of U.S. companies and account for 64 percent of new jobs created. The taxes from services rendered and paid out via labor costs go directly to the upkeep and betterment of your city and state. It is how cities hire police officers, widen roads, expand schools, and create parks and green spaces. It also cuts down on an individual's carbon footprint and decreases the environmental impacts associated with the operation of larger corporations. Buying local, literally and figuratively, supports the fabric of the community.
Equally important, it is on record that small businesses donate 250 percent more than larger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes. This is because local businesses have a more intimate knowledge of the issues at hand in the community and a better understanding of how to direct resources towards solving them.
There is poetic justice in knowing that money earned in a given area and spent at local establishments can then go back into the city, either in the form of tax dollars or donations geared toward helping the community. So if one wants to help out but simply doesn't have the time or resources, buying local is one of the greatest contributions one can make.
Whether to create more local jobs, support neighbors, benefit the environment, or help local causes, there are plenty of reasons to consider where you spend your money and what that money will accomplish down the road.