When g2g visited Gatineau/Ottawa for the Buy Social Summit in February 2019, we made a connection with a cool Ottawa newspaper that is doing very similar work to us for their local scene. It’s called the PEN, or Peace and Environment Network. An article in their paper called “Loving Our Local” caught our attention in particular. We wanted to share that article, as well as a lovely blog post that the PEN wrote about us when we reached out to them.
Here’s what they had to say about Loving Our Local:
Think Local First – three easy words to guide you!
Whenever you are in need of a product or service, why not consider a locally owned independent business?
In Ottawa, the Sustainable Enterprise Alliance (SEA) launched a local-first initiative called “Loving Our Local”, which started in 2017. It aims to promote businesses that have local ownership and can make purchasing decisions so that they too can buy and sell services and products from local vendors.
Why is it important support local businesses? PEN readers can probably list a few reasons! Local businesses have an interest in the wellbeing of the community since their owners live here. Unlike international or national chain stores, it’s not easy for a local business to move.
There are also economic advantages to shopping local that may not be apparent. Using data from Portland, Oregon, for example, researchers showed that every $100 spent at locally owned businesses contributed an additional $58 to the local economy. By comparison, $100 spent at a chain store in Portland yielded just $33 in local economic impact. Closer to home, the impact of buying local, even a few more purchases each week, can have a big impact on the local economy and on communities across Canada. For example, a BC study by Civic Economics assessing the impact of consumers increasing local purchasing by ten percent found it would create 31,000 jobs and add $940 million in wages to BC workers.
Local businesses, on average, pay their employees better than national chains, and offer better benefits. All of the statistics are well documented by research organizations like Civic Economics (civiceconomics.com), and the institute for local self-reliance (https://ilsr.org/key-studies-why-local-matters/).
Local vendors add to the character of a neighbourhood, with better customer service and a personal touch also being hallmarks of local businesses.
We all want a vibrant city with a variety of services and products that reflect our varied tastes, as well as providing a local Ottawa touch. With retail increasingly moving to online spaces, we need encourage local business to keep their brick and mortar offerings so we keep our cities and sidewalks welcoming and bright.
Do we need to buy 100% from local businesses? A reasonable goal of spending ten percent of your budget on local products and services can have a meaningful impact.For example, it is estimated that if every household in Ontario spent just ten dollars a week on local food, we would have an additional $2.4 billion in our local economy at the end of the year and create 10,000 new jobs (look for an article on the “multiplier effect” at https://sustainontario.com for more details.) How do you love your local?
Thinking local first is about so much more than just purchasing. It’s about experiencing, supporting and growing together. Visit a farmer’s market and meet the people who work so hard to produce fresh, healthy food. Visit some of the beautiful green spaces and parks in our communities.
Take in a show or performance at a local venue and experience first hand some of the amazing talents that call our region home.SEA encourages citizens of our amazing region to think local first, and try shifting their behaviour just ten percent towards local products, businesses and organizations. Get out and participate in the wonderful, diverse culture of Canada’s National Capital region. Meet the people, see the places and engage in the experiences that make it so special. Let’s all think local first.
The Sustainable Enterprise Alliance is a local non-profit organization. Our aim is to work with businesses with the idea of reciprocity. As the community supports local businesses, we will be working with them to reduce their environment footprint, through reducing water and energy use, resource use etc. By promoting sustainability principles like buying local and promoting green business practices among our membership we aim to transform the local business landscape. Through the Loving Our Local campaign, the Sustainable Enterprise Alliance has already added over one hundred businesses to our network. If you have a local business that you would like us to support, visit lovingourlocal.ca to get started.
The Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Centre works on peace, social justice and environmental issues, with an emphasis on local activities. The PEN focuses on the responsible, ethical, and sustainable, well being of the community.
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