As our local economy and local sales tax collections continue to make strides in the right direction, it's a good time to take a moment to appreciate our local business community.
Some key factors to help encourage you to "buy local":
• Local food is an important trend - just look at the success of our community gardens and farmers markets throughout the valley from Eagle to Vail. Local restaurants and markets are more likely to carry locally produced foods, in turn supporting local agriculture.
• Research shows that local business owners contribute to more local fundraising and 501(c)3 non-profit organizations than out-of-town chain stores.
• Small businesses provide a majority of jobs and job growth (certainly locally, but also nationally).
• Local businesses tend to become reflective of our community's unique culture, bringing an increase level of guest service and understanding of our community brand to their customers.
• The sales taxes generated by the local business community helps support our local municipalities and county: fixing our roads, maintaining our recreational facilities and trail systems and helping bring new economic drivers to our community.
• For the green-minded folks and folks looking to save on gasoline, shopping local reduces your carbon footprint.
• Local businesses have a vested interest in the future of our community; local business owners often possess a level of expertise and a passion for the products they sell that is unmatched. Local owners and employees take a special pride in their trade that you don't always see in national retailers.
Our "big box" chain stores certainly have their place by offer convenience and of course they employ numerous people. Our local chain stores, from City Market and Safeway to Home Depot or fast food joints, do make significant contributions to our employment and sales tax collections. The economic impacts of these stores should not be discounted as we discuss the benefits of "shop local."
I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage the community to look to members of the Vail Valley Partnership (and/or your local business association) when making your buying decisions. Members using members for their service needs has numerous benefits to the local community and to the businesses. Some members offer special offers and member-to-member discounts, and most of our members are located right here in the Eagle River Valley. They offer convenience and allow you to develop personal relationships and increased levels of service when compared to shopping online or outside the county.
One major benefit and a key strength of the Vail Valley Partnership is our tenure (49 years) in the valley. Many of our member organizations have also been around for quite a long time and continue, via their membership in the Vail Valley Partnership, to assist in our group sales and destination marketing efforts to drive tourism to our communities. Businesses membership in the VVP also helps place more weight and resources to our event recruiting and economic development efforts to drive economic activity in the valley.
The Partnership has over 700 member organizations and has members in a variety of business segments from business-to-business services to construction to computer IT support and other professional services that every business needs. We also have dozens of tourism and recreational based members to service destination guests to the area. It's easy to find our members via our online business directory at www.VailValleyPartnership.com.
Last but certainly not least, as we continue to struggle with foreclosures and other economic challenges, local businesses lead in fostering job creation. Studies show that locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than national chains. (Source: Civic Economics, "Economic Impact Analysis: A Case Study.")
So, next time you consider a trip to Silverthorne, Glenwood Springs or a web browser for your shopping convenience, take a quick moment to see if you can fulfill your needs locally. Shopping local offers significant benefits our community.
What can your business do to help? If you benefit from our business-to-business efforts and chamber programs, get off the sidelines and join the Partnership. If you are already a member, tell your neighbors to join to help us do more here in the valley.
As always, I encourage all member businesses to get engaged with the Partnership and to contact us with any suggestions you may have to help us better serve you and for non-members to join the Partnership. Call us at 970-476-1000 or stop by our offices in Avon at Traer Creek Plaza to share your feedback.