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Thursday, July 3, 2014 12:01 am

Triple our money by shopping local

What’s the best way to kick-start an argument anytime, anywhere?

Start talking about taxes.  

It never fails.  Next to hopping  on a table at Obed & Isaacs or Floyd’s Thirst Parlor at happy hour and loudly declaring the superiority of the Cubs over the Cardinals (or vice versa), if you want to quickly gather a boisterous, opinionated crowd, hold forth on whether we are generally taxed too much or too little for the government we want. Are we taxed fairly?  Are our tax dollars being spent on the right things?  In the right proportions?

Is there any aspect of a conversation about the “T” word on which there is any hope of reaching a broad consensus?  

Actually, yes, there is. As taxpayers, regardless of our position on taxes, it is always in our interest to insure every tax dollar the government collects and spends is working as hard as possible for our benefit.  And as it happens, we have a fairly straightforward way to improve the return on our collective investment: Shop at local, independent businesses that have local storefronts and local owners.

At Local First Springfield, our mission is to get the word out about the tremendous benefits to consumers, business owners and the community that come from patronizing local, independent businesses.  Over the last few years, you have no doubt seen or heard Local First Springfield’s message:  “Eat, Drink, Shop, Think, Local First”, which means you already know that one of the most powerful and positive effects of buying local is that 45 cents of every dollar spent at a local, independent business stays in the Springfield area, as opposed to 15 cents of that same dollar staying here when it’s spent at a big box or franchise.  

And it doesn’t matter where that dollar comes from.  

The same economic multiplier effect applies whether that dollar comes from a tourist picking up a box of Pease’s chocolate, a local resident buying shoes at Luer’s, a business buying its phone system from AmeriCall, or local government shifting some of its tremendous purchasing power to buying goods and services from local, independent businesses:  45 cents of all of it stays here, to be recirculated through our community a second and third time.

That is triple money that stays here and is recirculated through the Springfield economy when we all shop local.  Three times the economic bang for your buck.  

Some 150 years ago, our own Abraham Lincoln said that if he were given six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.  We, at Local First Springfield believe it is time to take a thoughtful look at sharpening the tools our government already has to help insure that what we buy with our tax dollars yields the maximum economic benefit to our community.

Bill McMahon is the executive director of Local First Springfield. He can be contacted at  info@localfirstspringfield.com.

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