The holidays are over and the last thing you want to think about is shopping and reading another #ShopSmall or #ShopLocal column. But I’m going to give you one anyone.
As we start our year, the economic impact of utilizing local companies when we make business decisions has a much greater reach than shopping local for the presents you are buying for friends and family for a month or two out of the year. Every month – or perhaps every week – your business is writing checks for services or supplies that your business relies on to function. These are needs and necessities – but who are you giving your money to?
Our members represent a wide swath of business and industry – financial services, legal services, insurance, suppliers, sign makers, printers, and the list goes on.
Do me a favor this year. Look over the list of vendors you are using and see how many are out of town entities. Can you switch one to a local vendor this year?
Maybe you have always used someone out of town for a certain service. We understand relationships are important. But if you have something new come up, could you try out a new vendor who is local?
Have we ever ordered pens, folders or labels from Office Depot? Sure we have.
But each year we look over our vendors for different items or services and work hard to use our local entities as much as possible.
Here’s why it matters.
Every time you utilize an outside vendor for a service for this community, you are leaking out dollars from our economy. But if you choose to use a local vendor, we can keep those dollars here. Well, of course, I know you know all of that. But what you may not be thinking about is the ripple effect. If we use more local engineers and lawyers instead of out of town firms, for instance, then those local professionals would have a need to grow their business, attracting more skilled professionals to work here in our area. That means more jobs. That also means, there’s an ecosystem of work for our high schoolers to come back to after college.
Our state is not gaining as much population as many others in the South. And North Louisiana isn’t growing hardly at all. But South Louisiana is.
We have to stick together and support one another in our corner of the state. The more we do these smaller things like utilizing local services, the more these small steps build a region of economic growth. And when we build ourselves up with more professional services, jobs and economic growth, our influence and our voice gets stronger, too.
Lisa Johnson is President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce