Search ‘Support Local’ and you’ll find a plethora of logos, initiatives, and articles about how consumers should support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that things are returning to normal, the value of supporting local remains, and in my opinion, is more important than ever. With the significant change in the Canadian economy and a shift in consumer spending behaviours, businesses who weathered the pandemic storm need the resources to continue to serve their communities. Most of the support initiatives focus on the consumer… but what can our local businesses do for one another?
According to Community Futures, 60% of small businesses in Canada reported revenue declines of more than 20% since COVID-19. It’s clear many small businesses are struggling, and if you’re a business owner, you’ve likely felt the impacts of the pandemic in one way or another and know the value of local support.
Whenever a company spends cash, much like a consumer, there’s a choice: spend locally or spend with multinationals and chains. By choosing to spend locally, businesses feed into the local multiplier effect where additional economic benefit is accrued in an area from the money spent in the local economy. Although varied by location, a study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that communities typically see between 1.4 to 2 times the value of the amount spent. The impact is significant.
Our province will recover faster if our businesses join consumers in choosing to support one another. Here are some ways your company can contribute to a thriving community:
- Reward your team with local treats or lunch. This may seem obvious, but many of us automatically choose the convenience of the golden arches over sourcing a local eatery. Ask your team to pull up the Mysask411 app and do some searching to find the best donuts in the city or bring in lunch from a place you’ve never tried.
- Source your infrastructure needs locally. Do you need new office chairs? An upgrade in technology? Help running online staff meetings? Chances are there’s a local provider just waiting to scoop up your business. And chances are their service, wait times, and staff are the best of the best because just like you, they care about their community, and your personal experience.
- Find opportunities in your supply chain. Keeping the supply chain local offers shorter turnaround times, more sustainability, and the comfort of proximity. Plus, buying local can often reduce your waste, cut down on processing, limit packaging and the transportation of goods, all of which can help your bottom line. Why not support the environment and cut down on industrial pollution while you’re maximizing your supply chain?
- Give back to your community. We all love that warm fuzzy feeling we get when we try to make our home a better place. Invest in your community by contributing to local charities and fundraisers. Support local sports teams, non-profits, or community groups. By contributing to the betterment of the community, you’ll be recognized as a business leader and if you give enough, you can use the charitable deduction on your income tax.
- Team up to cross-promote and share resources. Expand your reach! Collaborate with like-minded businesses and create an alliance that benefits both parties. Leverage each other’s strengths and increase exposure by accessing new audiences for free. It’s a win-win for both parties. An example that comes to mind is the popular event, Supper in the Orchard, where Over the Hill Orchards & Winery partners with local to chefs to hold a fabulous dinner in the orchard using ingredients from local farms and of course, the winery.
- Spend your advertising dollars locally. Who knows the market better than advertising experts born and raised in your community? These experts are invested in your success, unlike multinationals or chains, because they belong to the same local economy as you. Directwest is committed to growing the Saskatchewan economy and helping local businesses win with a variety of Marketing Services. If you need help with advertising, a rep from our team would be happy to discuss the opportunities you have to leverage your local business over a cup of (local) coffee.
Research done consistently estimate that for every $100 spent locally, $68 of that stays in the community, but extending the Support Local movement beyond consumers can stretch its power even further. By investing locally in as many ways as possible, local businesses are contributing to a bright economic future with better products and services, expanding the community, increasing job availability, and keeping the wealth local.
Why look elsewhere when it pays to use what’s right in front of you?
Ashley Herchak is a Product Consultant on the Brand & Digital Platforms Team at Directwest.