Keep it local in 2011

Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. We can lament the death of our downtowns and local jobs because of big box retailers and outsourcing, but that death began with our desire to have cheap and convenient stuff that tends not to come from local businesses.

The popular statistic is that as much as 70 percent of new jobs come from small, local businesses, especially during times of economic recovery. Those small businesses cannot grow if no one is spending money with them.

I understand that it is often economically impossible to shop locally for a lot of people in a lot of cases, but even if each of us increases our local shopping by a fraction, it helps local businesses grow, and that growth helps them hire and compete.

So my goal and challenge for this year is this: before you spend, consider the local alternative. Local businesses may not always be the best solution, but they sometimes are, and if you make the choice to keep it local when you can, everyone benefits.