The following is a guest post by Ann of Eat Breathe Blog.

Buy Local movements have been popping up in towns all over the country from the East Coast to Middle America and the West Coast. With the increase in use of social media for grassroots organizing, Buy Local movements are picking up speed quickly; businesses and local economies are reaping the benefits.

The Buy Local movement is a grassroots word-of-mouth movement consisting of local businesses, local customers and local policy makers all working together to help improve their local economies by keeping money circulating in the community. In terms of sustainability, the Buy Local movement seeks to reduce environmental degradation by reducing the distance products need to travel to make it to the customer. The movement also stimulates local economies and creates a stronger since of community.

Numerous studies across the country have shown that local businesses help to keep more money within their local economies than businesses headquartered in distant locations.

In 2008, a Grand Rapids, Mich. study conducted by Civic Economics found that for every $100 spent by local businesses, $68 stayed within the community, compared to $43 by non-local businesses. The significance of the Grand Rapids study lies in the fact that Grand Rapids represents the average American city more so than previous studies in other cities like San Francisco, where the studies showed virtually the same results. It’s easy to say San Francisco is unique; especially if you’ve ever been there. What this study proves is whether the home of the business is a bustling eccentric metropolis or an average American Main Street town, local businesses are of vital importance to the economic well-being of the community.

Read on for all the benefits of buying local…

Photo by notmargaret

Strong local economies equal more business.

You don’t need a market analysis to realize that. Healthy, sustainable economies stimulate business growth and job creation. By participating in Buy Local campaigns businesses can develop a loyal customer base dedicated to keeping their money within the community. Many customers who participate in Buy Local campaigns are dedicated to their communities and are actively participating in the campaign as a means to help support and maintain a vibrant, diverse and economically stable business community.

Implement the Buy Local movement into your business and community.

Incorporating a Buy Local campaign into your marketing strategy may take a bit of leg work and may require a change in some business practices, depending upon the requirements set forth by your local campaign. Some campaigns may only require that the business be locally owned. Some may require that the business also shop locally and use local services.

It’s not always realistic that all of your business needs will be met locally but those that can should. A Buy Local campaign requires businesses to network and support one another. It would not only be unethical to participate in a Buy Local campaign without buying anything local, it would be counterproductive. For a Buy Local campaign to work, businesses have to work together and  support each other.

Businesses participating in Buy Local campaigns are responsible for educating customers on the importance of buying local, and how the community benefits. There are some customers who will actively seek out local businesses; many will have to be reminded that the success of the local economy and its businesses requires active participation on the part of the community.

Photo by Mrs. Bennettar

Spread the word!

Many Buy Local campaigns have stickers for businesses to place in their windows, educational materials for businesses to pass out and other promotional campaign materials. In addition, tables promoting the Buy Local campaign and its participants are set up at local farmers markets and community festivals.

You can find out if your town has an active Buy Local campaign by going to the website for The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. There you’ll find more information about the effects Buy Local campaigns have on a community and businesses, as well as information on which towns already have active campaigns and how to contact them. If your town doesn’t already have an active campaign you’ll find information and resources on how to begin organizing a campaign for your area.

Does your community promote a Buy Local campaign? How have you seen buying local benefit your family and/or your community?

Ann R. is an avid reader, writer, blogger and volunteer community organizer who believes strong sustainable communities can be created through social media networking and active community involvement. Ann is a single mom, a working artist and designer. She is motivated by creativity, ‘outside of the box’ thinking and her son.