The ideas you’ll read about in this issue demonstrate that small, individual actions, when made community wide, bring about an improvement of economic security that we could never accomplish without each other.
In 2012, The Reader Magazine began a community-wide campaign called The Declaration of Local Independence. It is a way to mobilize folks in our community to make a small shift in their consumer behavior which when made together, produces as many as 8,900 jobs, $480 million spent at locally-owned businesses and and an extra $7,200 in everyone’s wallet who receives The Reader, every year.
Studies from across the US back up these projections, including work you’ll find at the American Independent Business Association, and a joint study by Civic Economics and American Express OPEN. A growing body of evidence proves the impact we have on our own finances and our community through spending at support of our locally- owned businesses is much greater than most assume.
Still, I know what you’re thinking. There is no way $40 million a month or $480 million annually could ever be spent locally through any kind of campaign.
So let’s see. You and the 390,000 other people who are mailed The Reader Magazine spend $7.65 billion annually or $637 million a month. According to the US Census, 33% of our household spending is on housing and utilities, leaving 67% for everything else. Conservatively assuming only 1/3rd of the $637 million spent each month can be purchased from locally-owned businesses still amounts to $212 million. Could a well-organized campaign insure 20% more of that figure is actually spent at locally-owned businesses? You can see why at www.readernation.org/shift.
If you don’t own a locally-owned business there is still a huge upside for you from this spending shifting to locally-owned businesses. The studies cited suggest that the strongest communities are those with the highest percentage of jobs in businesses that are locally owned. Local ownership in businesses pumps up the multiplier effect of every local dollar spent, which increases local income, wealth, jobs, taxes, charitable contributions, economic development, tourism, and entrepreneurship.
In fact, the $480 million being spent at locally-owned businesses will mean more money recirculating in the community, which has the predictable effect of more money for you and me, to the tune of about $7,200 a year.
If these scenarios still seem impossible to imagine, to get a deeper sense of how communities either diminish or flourish as a result of a community’s spending at locally-owned businesses you’ll find facts to back up these assertions in this issue, notably Thom Hartman’s The Entrepreneurial Revolution. The article shows a dangerous, historical trend in which we are losing political relevancy because we are losing economic power.
Through The Reader Magazine’s Declaration of Local Independence campaign more money won’t just be spent here, more will recirculate here: amongst individuals, families, credit unions, and businesses. The campaign will also empower us to curb the flow of money out of our community and into the bank accounts of lobbyists, major corporations, and major banks, which today are the eventual beneficiaries of our purchases at the largest retailers and national service providers.
Finally, by working together through a community-wide campaign we will create a shared vision even better than what I’ve describe here, because it will come from the collective potential and ideas of the community, the potential to create that is within each of us.
To learn more about The Reader Magazine’s Declaration of Local Independence Campaign and how you can play a part in it, see www.readernation.org/shift. Sign the pledge to shift at least $20 a month in spending to locally- owned businesses at www.localindependence.com.