Whether you’re a carnivore or a herbivore, you can still be a localvore. That would be someone who veraciously hunts and gathers foods from within their local food shed. It’s a person dedicated to eating food grown and produced locally. Why should we care? Because local foods use less resources (primarily fossil fuels) expended in packaging and transport; because buying local foods supports the local economy (more money remains in our local community); because local foods are healthier (less processing and preservatives are used); and best of all, local foods are fresher and taste better. But why stop with food, be a localvore in all your purchases. Keep your neighbor (and maybe yourself) employed, Buy Kent!
Our Economic Development Director was the inspiration for this message. He recently sent me his pitch for the buy local, buy Kent campaign and asked if I could put it up as a blog post. With such a good cause, I was happy to oblige.
Getting Vocal About Local Businesses!
As the former Executive Director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, I know first hand the challenges facing our small business community as well as the enhanced sense of community they provide. Part of what makes Kent and Portage County’s quality of life great are our abundance of unique small business owners that include shops, restaurants and independent businesses that provide local products and services on a daily basis.
When you hear the terms business climate and economic environment, it is really these front line businesses and risk takers that are contributing to our community’s overall health and well being from the income they earn to pay employees, taxes (in support of schools and city services) and hopefully in making a reasonable profit. These business owners are often our friends and family, or at the very least, our fellow residents. Local businesses are extremely healthy for our City.
During my tenure as Chamber Director, I had often stated that you can dine at the Olive Garden in Anywhere, USA but where else can you dine in a 130+ year old train station, The Pufferbelly; a great local Deli, Franklin Square Deli; or enjoy a great intimate atmosphere for business or with that special someone, The Bistro on Main; not to mention great local conversation and camaraderie over a bowl of famous chili, Ray’s Place?
These are just few examples (there are hundreds of additional examples) and do not even begin to touch the broad spectrum of locally owned and operated businesses. Half the fun of supporting locally owned businesses is exploring all that Kent and our surrounding areas have to offer. I invite your to investigate our local businesses and offer the following resources to aid you on your quest.. See list of Chambers, Main Street & Visitors Bureau.
With a tough economy and strained financial markets where is most of our recent growth occurring? This is an easy question to answer…locally owned businesses. We have been much more successful at growing locally owned businesses, “economic gardening,” than attracting large nationally owned and franchised businesses. While I always argue that healthy balance of each is needed, there are compelling reasons for supporting local businesses first. See ten really good reasons to support local independent businesses.
Thanks to the efforts of groups like the Main Street Kent, Chambers of Commerce and the Visitors Bureau, our locally owned businesses have been able successfully serve the needs of Kent. I’ll mention a just a few long-time businesses to illustrate the point: Sue Nelson Designs, Woodsy’s Music, City Bank Antiques, The Works, Kent Natural Foods, Kent Hardware, McKay Bricker Studios, The Kent Stage, Leander’s Barbershop, and local banks. Just for fun let’s through in a few newcomers: The Fig Leaf, The Backerie, Scribbles, Guy’s Pizza, Empire and the $6.5 million dollar Phoenix Project. Again, it would be impossible to list everyone. I invite you to determine your list of favorite local businesses.
In closing, local businesses only survive when we decide to support and purchase their products and services. I have lived in Portage County my entire life and have witnessed how our local businesses support the quality of life of our community. I urge you to think local first when considering your next purchase. Without question, Kent is a great place to live, learn and enjoy local business!
Here are Ten Really Good Reasons
to Support Local Independent Businesses
You build stronger community
Entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
You encourage local prosperity
Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in our community’s future.
You reduce environmental impact
Locally-owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation. These businesses choose proximity to city and neighborhood centers, lessening your transportation costs and easing our carbon footprint.
You keep places fun & unique
One-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of our town and yours… residents and visitors alike seek out what’s rare and unusual.
You create more good jobs
Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and provide the most jobs to residents.
You help social, cultural & ecological projects
Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from local owned business.
You get better service
Local businesses are closer and more accountable to their customers. They hire people with more specific product expertise and customer concern.
Your money goes further
Significantly more money re-circulates when purchases are made from our very own businesses, service providers, and farms. Local-to-local purchases strengthen community.
You get more choices
A multitude of smaller businesses, each selecting products based on the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
You put taxes to good use
Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services.
Places to find local businesses
Kent Area Chamber of Commerce www.kentbiz.com
Main Street Kent www.mainstreetkent.org
Brimfield Area Chamber of Commerce www.brimfeildchamber.com
Franklin Township www.franklintownshipohio.org
Central Portage County Visitors Bureau www.centralportage.com