One of my growing passions is the continued economic growth of our region. Pittsburgh continues to show that its rebirth is not just a fad, and I think you are seeing that carry-over into the recovering mill towns that sit on our rivers and the coal mining towns that are nestled among our hills. I’m not saying that there isn’t still plenty of struggle to go around, but I do believe that we’ve seen improvements over the last decade in cities across the tri-state area like Wheeling and Morgantown in West Virginia, Canton and Youngstown in Ohio, and Cranberry Township and other outlying areas surrounding the Pittsburgh metroplex.
One of the trends I’ve seen that almost always trigger sustainable economic growth is the growth of small business. It’s easy to get drawn by big box stores and chain restaurants, but what really seems to stabilize a community is when a city keeps its money in the local economy.
Last week we saw yet another Black Friday come and go. We don’t have all the numbers yet on whether or not national economists and talking heads will say whether it was a success or not, but while those numbers affect national numbers, it will ultimately have far less of an impact than another, far less heralded day--Small Business Saturday.
Small business Saturday happened two days following Black Friday, and while those numbers might never make the network news, we already know what those dollars can mean to a regional community. Consider this infographic put out by CustomMade who took the time to crunch the numbers.
For those of you who want the highlights, here you go:
- Local business generates 70% more local economic activity per sq. foot than big box retail.
- Spending $100 at an independent business will generate $68 of local economic activity vs $48 at a big box retailer.
- Money spent at a local business generates 3.5 times more wealth locally than a chain-owned business.
- If every family in the United States spent an extra $10 a month at a local, independent business instead of a chain, over 9.3 billion dollars would be directly returned to the communities where they are located.
I’m not here to beat up on Walmart and Best Buy. They serve their purposes, but as you are out shopping this Christmas, whether you are buying presents or getting a nice meal between stops, remember that when you spend money at a local, independent business, a very real person, a person you might see at the park, in church, or at your child’s Christmas pageant will smile a little bigger and enjoy the holidays a little bit more because you chose to do business with them instead of giving your hard-earned money to a faceless company whose only draw is convenience and the possible difference of a few dollars. I assure you, you’ll see those dollars spent far better if we can keep them close to home.
If you're a local, independent business and you're wondering how to get these people to come through your doors, here's an infographic Em-Media has developed to get you on your way.