How to grow local economy: community economist

A year-round community greenhouse, a local butcher storefront, and senior housing are some solutions brainstormed by Vanderhoof

On June 1

On June 1

A year-round community greenhouse, a local butcher storefront, and senior housing are some solutions brainstormed by Vanderhoof residents this season to encourage local spending.

On June 1, over 30 community members — including representatives from local government, businesses, and credit unions — attended globally recognized economist Michael Shuman’s workshop on the local economy solution at the Nechako Community Church.

According to participants, major expenditures that leak local dollars from the Vanderhoof economy include wholesale groceries, senior health care, recreation, and vehicle servicing.

To address some of these leakages, assets in Vanderhoof that can be turned into business opportunities may be locally produced energy from sawmill waste that can be used to power year-round greenhouses.

Local butchers can have a downtown storefront to encourage more residents to purchase meat from local farms, and having appropriate senior housing may allow residents to stay in the area longer without venturing to bigger centres for care.

By having needs addressed by local rather than external providers, a community will be less vulnerable, have more skills, and be able to diversify exports, Shuman explained.

He also argued that local economic developers should establish low-cost policies, instead of provide free funding, to encourage growth of local independent businesses and help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Referring to the Harvard Business Review and a study performed by the Federal Reserve of Atlanta, he said more small companies mean more jobs and less poverty for the community.

Profit rates for firms are the highest when their employees number five to 20, according to a survey of Canadian profitability in 2009.

Shuman’s top 12 ways for families, in order of increasing amounts, to localize spending in the community:

12) Localize personal services such as childcare, accounting, and tailoring

11) Drink locally and stop smoking

10) Expand private education

9) Give to local charities

8) Eat out locally

7) Shift health services

6) Localize utilities

5) Be less fashionable

4) Have fun locally

3) Buy fresh food

2) Travel more efficiently

1) Localize rent or mortgage with local banks or credit unions