The Case for Local
"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."
– Franklin D. Roosevelt introducing his Second Bill of Rights in 1944.
It turns out that how our economy operates can support and improve the well-being of our people and place, or undermine and degrade it. Study after study has shown that the more locally owned businesses per capita that a community has, the better off that place is on many of the other indicators of community health. The larger the share of transactions in our economy—buying, producing, investing—that involve a locally owned business, the more thriving, equitable, and resilient our economy and community can be.
Dollars spent with corporate chains quickly fly out of our local economy and don't come back. Buying locally——by consumers, businesses, and local government——grows our local economy because of the powerful local multiplier effect. When you spend $100 with a local, independent business, most of that money stays here, paying for local services, supplies, staff, and sometimes inventory. Those businesses then spend most of that money with other local businesses, and so on. Your $100 has just multiplied, each transaction creating on average three times more income, jobs, and wealth for your community. It not only makes intuitive sense, but study after study verifies this powerful contrast.
If what we buy locally isn't also produced locally when possible, we cut far short the positive local impact of our purchasing. Producing more here also creates a more diverse job base—after all, not all of us can or want to be software engineers or biotechs, and you can't feed a family pulling lattes. Plus, the more we provide for ourselves, the less reliant we’ll be on uncertain global systems, and the better buffered we'll be from the disruptions of climate change. From food and energy, to materials and consumer products, there are thousands of opportunities to responsibly produce more here, creating meaningful, durable livelihoods and a more resilient local economy. (Learn more about Seattle Made, our program to support urban manufacturers and producers.)
If we're buying and producing locally, but not investing in the stability and growth of those enterprises, we starve our economy and ourselves. Seattlites hold approximately $70 billion in long term savings, almost none of which is invested in locally owned enterprises, despite the fact that those enterprises make up nearly 50% of our economy. Imagine the positive impact of shifting even a small percentage of that investment into the place we call home, rather than Wall Street. Community Capital is the growing movement to correct this imbalance, and to ensure that we all have the opportunity to be invested in our local economy.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has collected and indexed many of the studies that support the Case for Local: