Here’s your primer on how to ensure your local economic development policies are measuring what matters and positioning the conversation around the REAL cost of doing business with non-local businesses.
If you were part of the November 27 webinar from Local First Procurement expert Kimber Lanning, you know all about economic gardening. If not, here’s your primer on how to ensure your local economic development policies are measuring what matters and positioning the conversation around the REAL cost of doing business with non-local businesses.
When it comes to making the case for local suppliers to procurement pros, Kimber offered some sure-fire tips: Be an expert. Get your facts, data, research and studies together so you can make the case for why procurement policies might be failing your community. Be prepared for the arguments against local suppliers (crazy, but true, some folks think it’s too regulatory, anti-free trade or will causes big businesses to leave the
state). Use the right measurement stick to evaluate the value. What is the rate of return? How many full-
time employees with benefits vs. part time employees with no health care? What kind of charitable contributions are made by locally owned businesses that won’t come to the community through a big box contract? And quantify the second tier jobs: web designers, accountants, service providers to that local company that might go away and have a tremendous ripple effect in a local economy.
Once you have data and a solid case for local procurement, make sure you are talking about it in terms that will resonate with your local political and business leaders. Job creation and economics might have more impact
than talking about preference. Align with politicians who step out on the issue and support them whenever possible.
In many communities around North America, because of the extended economic downtown, large out of state companies are bidding more frequently on smaller contracts, competing more often with locally owned, smaller
providers. Arm yourself with what you need to know to compete and win – regardless of size or cost.
By developing a local steering committee with various industries represented, you’ll have strength in numbers. And beyond the usual suspects of office supply stores, food services or other common procurement ‘no brainers’ – look for architects, engineers, contractors and others who might be losing out on bigger contracts repeatedly.
It’s not going to be easy, but with hard work, the right facts at your fingertips, and a good coalition behind you, local procurement can vastly benefit your business and your community.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech this week has been described by many as unique in the world of politics. Political affiliations aside, what moved so many of us was her use of a particular word, used repeatedly, throughout her speech: Love.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech this week has been described by many as unique in the world of politics. Political affiliations aside, what moved so many of us was her use of a particular word, used repeatedly, throughout her speech: Love. Politicians don’t often talk about love, but it is a word we use at BALLE. And this week something happened that could be described as an outpouring of love in Bellingham, Washington, the community where I live.
A 15-year old natural foods store, Terra Organica/Public Market, put out a call for help on facebook last week. This is a BALLE business and a member of local business network Sustainable Connections. The owner, Stephen Trinkhaus admitted he’d taken some expansion risks the past year that had over-extended their business. He said that they were now on the brink of closing.
He said he had decided to ask for help because if they closed, 60 people would lose their jobs — and because he really believes in what he offers our community. If they closed, we would have fewer healthy, thoughtfully selected products and services. So he asked if we’d consider shopping there…a lot…in the next few weeks.
Within hours the Bellingham Herald had posted his letter on their website and by closing their sales had already increased by $2,000 for the day. The next day was their busiest day in all of 2012, and the following day was their busiest in fifteen years of doing business here.
A customer came in and offered a $1,000 check as a gift! Others contributed money as well. One person had the idea of buying extra food to give to the food bank, and through facebook, many others decided to do the same. Far away friends of friends on facebook sent in donations! A local citizen organized a “cash mob” to be held five days after the plea for help – on Facebook alone, well over 300 people said they would participate. Several “competitor” businesses showed up to help too. They encouraged their customers to shop at the store in need; one organized a treasure hunt through Terra Organica and then offered free products at their own stores as gifts. Fundraisers and concerts were organized over-night. Some suppliers donated product! Employees even offered to work for free.
We don’t yet know if this level of support will be enough to turn the corner at this late hour, but the warmth and generosity that is being expressed is beyond moving. As the owner, Stephen Trinkhaus said, “THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THE SUPPORT. Consider us BLOWN AWAY by the outpouring. There have been more than a few tears, and so many hugs that they may well outnumber the quantity of fresh local blueberries sitting on our produce rack right now. BELLINGHAM (and beyond) – WE LOVE YOU!”
Yes. At BALLE we say Yes to relationships, Yes to caring for each other, Yes to love.
BALLE’S founding impulse is well described by our co-founder Judy Wicks,
“At its heart, the localist movement is about love. It’s the power of love that will help us overcome fear in the hard days ahead as we confront the effects of climate change and peak oil. Our love of place, our love of life give us the courage to protect what we care about most – children, communities, animals, nature, all of life on our beautiful planet Earth. And, I would say for the entrepreneurs amongst us, our love of business. Business has been corrupted as an instrument of greed rather than used to serve the common good. Yet we know that business is beautiful when we put our creativity, care, and energy into producing products and services our community needs.”
Nobody needs to do it alone.