Part of our October series on Jobs & The Economy, featuring written op-ed pieces and Q&As with Delaware’s business, labor and government leaders.
Growth and prosperity; that seems to be what every politician, pundit, and analyst says we need to achieve. The problem with this Utopian vision of a healthy economy is the gray definition of what growth and prosperity really is. Sure, growth can be measured by GDP, but if GDP grows when real income declines, are we in any better position? Prosperity can be measured by income and spending, but if net worth decreases are we really more prosperous? And don’t even try to factor happiness into this equation!
No One Else Is Going To Fix The Economy
Any debate about the economy and jobs these days revolves around what the government or business leaders can do to fix the economy and create jobs. Yet, with about three years of the economic downturn under our belts, the same questions are being asked, and not one sustainable solution has been implemented (if there’s one I don’t know about, please share). For the most part, we’ve simply been waiting for someone else to move the mountain.
Today’s Economy Is The New Normal
Let’s face it; credit is scarce; investment is virtually non-existent; incomes are stagnant; and no one is hiring. Let’s just stop all of the talk about, “…when the economy gets better…”. We’re not going to see 2004 again. Ever.
Choose Your Economic Future
Do you want the economy to be volatile in the short term and stagnant in the long term (our current path)? Or, would you rather see slow, but consistent growth with rare and short periods of hardship? While many bankers, brokers, executives, and a small portion of investors profit from volatility, the rest of us are left with heartache and anxiety as offices and factories open and close, as our retirement plans go up and down, and as we deal with fluctuating household finances.With all of the cable news punditry, and the political finger pointing, it’s easy to forget that we still hold all of the power. Yes, us – the consumers. We don’t need to occupy Wall Street to get our message across. Each dollar we spend is a ballot cast for the direction of today’s economy. Do you want less economic volatility, better quality of available goods and services, and a stronger and more unique community? The solution could not be more simplistic: buy local.
What You Buy Is As Important As Where You Buy It
Buy local campaigns generally focus on supporting locally owned businesses, and that’s great. But to truly influence the health and direction of the local economy, we all need to make a conscious and committed shift in the way we spend money. Here are a few examples:
- Go get that long overdue car tune-up with the local repair shop rather than buying the new iPhone 4S.
- Buy fresh produce and essentials from local farm stands and independent markets rather than everything from the grocery chain.
- Kill the Netflix subscription in favor of an extra lunch out at a locally owned restaurant.
What About Jobs?
It has been said that today’s economy is a gig economy. In the gig economy, everyone is in a short-term job. In the gig economy, relationships are important. A strong, and diverse network of contacts will help one land his/her next gig. Buying local will perpetually feed this gig economy, which will decrease economic volatility. As small businesses return to profitability, they’ll employ additional workers, and hire contractors for additional services – such as bookkeeping, or cleaning services. As these contractors land more gigs, they too, will need to hire additional help, and/or contractors, such as an answering service or IT support, and so on.
Phil Woods is the creator of the hyper-local websites http://WhereinDE.com, http://OnlyLocalDelaware.com, and http://DealsinDelaware.com. Through his company, SBP Marketing, LLC, Phil helps small businesses harness the power of digital media with strategy design, and affordable online advertising alternatives.