President’s Letter: Support Your Local Economy

Jennifer Tavares, CEcD, President and CEO

Support Your Local Economy

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local—and that’s kind of the same.” – Unknown

It may seem a little early to mention shopping locally for the holidays—after all, I’m still picking up Halloween candy wrappers. Having accidentally started my holiday shopping during Ithaca’s Wizarding Weekend on Saturday, I feel like it’s early, too. I can share, however, that my purchase felt really good, because it was from a small, independent, locally owned business—which also happened to be a Chamber member.

We don’t need holidays for solid justification to shop locally, though. Your local economy and its businesses need your investment all year long. There are many ways to increase your impact, and depending on your choices, that impact can be quite large. For example, did you know:

  • That a locally owned, independent small business owner will reinvest more than three times as much back into the local economy when compared to chain stores?
  • That shopping with local small businesses demonstrates your values: local employment, entrepreneurship, uniqueness, and caring for your neighbor’s business?
  • You increase your chances of enhancing and growing your business to business relationships by investing in other local businesses?
  • Most local business owners are happy to take phone or internet orders, prepare gifts in advance, wrap your gifts, or otherwise make your shopping easier if you’re tight on time?
  • Programs like the Chamber’s CFCU Advantage program connect local businesses offering discounts to you and your employees all year long?
  • Unique gifts ranging from fine foods and beverages, clothing and shoes, electronics, art, massage and spa experiences, golf and sports gear, just about everything handmade, gift certificates and baskets, and so much more are right here in Tompkins County!

The Chamber will be sharing a lot of local shopping messages in the coming weeks—as will our partners at the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Local First Ithaca, and even County and City officials, because the importance of committing to spend at least some of your budget with local small businesses cannot be understated. This is where your dollar can have the most impact.

If you seek items that a small independent retailer might not have—the next best choice will be the plethora of larger retailers in Ithaca and Tompkins County. Before you leave town to shop, remember that local stores employ lots of your community members. Those jobs are important to the local economy, both to help dollars keep circulating, and to ensure that your sales tax dollars are distributed back to your local municipality.

Sales tax receipts from retail and restaurant sales are budgeted for locally, and though it may seem insignificant at the register, that 4% has a real impact on our collective bottom line. Ordering from an online retailer may not benefit your local community—but shopping locally will.

The Chamber is once again participating in Small Business Saturday. We’ll have materials for members to use soon, and will be promoting all participating businesses via our website and social media. Be on the lookout for announcements via email in the next week or so, inviting you to pick up your supplies.

The holidays will be here before we know it. Year-end thank you gifts, corporate gifts, and employee recognition programs can all be found in our local marketplace. Make a pact to spend at least some of your weekly, monthly, and holiday budgets with local small businesses—you won’t regret it.