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‘Shop local’ must be mindset rather than buzzwords

Shop local. Shop local. Shop local. It is a common mantra we hear each year — especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas — but are we ignoring the more important questions that should be asked to go along with this effort?

Are all of us really making an effort to spend our money here at home? How much does every dollar spent here impact the local community? Are local government entities doing everything possible to spend their dollars — almost all of which are provided by taxpayers — with local businesses? Are those businesses doing the same when they purchase goods or services? Could more be done to ensure this is a priority for the entire community?

The Advocate-Messenger doesn’t have all the answers to these questions, but we would love to provide some in coming days and weeks. We welcome your stories about shopping local.

As consumers, now is a perfect time to think about this and make conscious decisions. The Great American Brass Band Festival is hitting the notes this weekend. If you plan to enjoy the festivities, make a commitment to support a local business or two. Grab a bite to eat in a restaurant. Buy some summer fashions at a boutique. Sample a tasty treat from a locally-owned provider.

Shopping local has to start at the most grassroots level possible, with the individual.

Then it can translate to government and businesses.

It is a common — and often valid — complaint among local businesses that government entities do not provide a fair opportunity and that out-of-town vendors are given preferential treatment for no legitimate reason.

The entire concept raises a host of additional questions.

Does each local government entity have a policy or practice in place that encourages employees or departments to favor local vendors when price is not an issue? This could include public school districts, city government, county government and any other government entities.

Are employees aware of any policy? What is done to make them aware?

Do local businesses feel they are given fair opportunities to compete?

What do local elected officials believe their respective policy is? What do they feel it should be?

Do local governments make an effort to inform local businesses of opportunities to provide services? If so, how?

Statistics show that every dollar spent locally re-circulates eight times within a community — often far more than that — and creates a cycle of reinvestment.

You spend money at a local retailer who hires a resident who shops at the corner grocery that pays taxes to the government that employs more people who do the same.

On and on it goes.

However, without that first step — spending every penny possible right here at home — the entire cycle grinds to a halt.

The Advocate is making a commitment to “shop local” and hope others do the same.

Michael Caldwell is interim publisher of The Advocate-Messenger and Danville Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6400 or by email at mike.caldwell@centralkynews.com.