The Importance of Supporting Local

Most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to stick with our set patterns; go to the same stores, and make the same dinners for our family week after week. We take the easy route when and where possible because of, well, life. Life for most of us is going 100 mph; where if we can accomplish 30% of our chores or workload, the day is a success. What would happen if we all stopped, took a breath, and reflected on how each one of our buying decisions makes a positive or negative impact on the community we live in today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now? It may be hard to believe our small daily decisions can have such an impact, but they do, and collectively, they have the power to bring prosperity to our entire community. As with most positive changes, it starts with a small personal commitment which spreads first to our family, then to our circle of friends, and ultimately, to the community at large.

Humboldt Made has made “Go Local” campaigns a core focus of our organization’s mission. Whether it’s educating people as to local products on our website; or working with local grocery stores to use signage featuring local products; or doing Humboldt Made “Buying Challenges” for special holidays like Thanksgiving; we do this because we know many of our makers and producers consider Humboldt County their bread and butter. Humboldt provides a secure jumping off point, allowing them to eventually grow outside of our County, which is often key to developing a secure, sustainable business. What’s remarkable and somewhat unique to Humboldt is that we produce a wide variety of products across the board, making choosing local a relatively easy process. Local chocolate, check. Local whiskey, check. Local cannabis check, check. Local ghee, lip balm, shampoo? Check, check, check!

So what if the citizens of Humboldt made a commitment to shop local when and where we can? We start by looking for those local tags, and when we see them, compare them to the national brand, we’re more accustomed to putting in our cart. Look at the ingredients, look at what city they are made in, think about the number of jobs they generate and the taxes they pay into for our schools and roads. Then look at the price point. When I buy a Humboldt Chocolate chocolate bar with a price point of $4.99 compared to a Pennsylvanian produced chocolate bar at $3.99, I know that statically what I spend on the Humboldt bar will remain right here within the County, generating three times the economic activity compared to the bar from Pennsylvania. Here’s what David Morris, Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit economic research and development organization, has to say about it. “If you’re buying local and not at a chain or branch store, chances are that store is not making a huge profit, that means more goes into input costs—supplies and upkeep, printing, advertising, paying employees—which puts that money right back into the community." By making this small choice I am not only getting a delicious, well-crafted chocolate bar but I am also supporting jobs for my neighbors, upping the taxes that are paying for the infrastructure I use daily, and the best part, making a purchase that just feels good, really good! As far as Humboldt Made is concerned, your decision to buy local just made you an economic development professional!

A study done in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has a population of 191,000 (Humboldt County has a population of 136,754), by economic consultant Dan Houston, shows that if consumers were to allocate 10% more of their grocery bill to local businesses instead of chains, it would create 1,600 jobs with a payroll of $53 million and increase the town’s economic activity by $137 million.

Can we embrace that 10% challenge Humboldt? We think so!

These simple, impactful decisions don’t just stop with our grocery bills. They continue with the restaurants we patronize, the contractors we hire, the news outlets we support, the government contracts we fund, the jewelry we wear, and the list goes on. The end goal? Choosing local becomes a mindset, an added step in our daily decision-making process. Sure, it’s not always possible, but when and where we can, why not?

Our decisions today shape our economy tomorrow. When and where we can let’s support Humboldt business. After all, a few pennies here and there from each of us add up to big bucks for our community. We have everything to gain.

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Alanna PowellComment