Guest Columnist

Buy Here, Give Here and Grow Here: Reinvest your dollars where you live

Cyclists pass down the sidewalk along 3rd Street SE between 11th and 12th avenues in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Cyclists pass down the sidewalk along 3rd Street SE between 11th and 12th avenues in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

There is power behind where you choose to spend your money, especially during the holiday shopping season.

Every dollar spent locally returns an average of three times more to our community than buying elsewhere. The positive impact of those dollars is the driving force behind the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance’s initiative called Buy Here, Give Here, Grow Here presented by GreenState Credit Union.

Now in its second year, the initiative features local businesses and nonprofits creating positive economic impact right here in our community. Many Chambers of Commerce across the country have “buy local” programs that promote the merits of local purchases. Ours is uniquely branded and uses a wider lens, with three distinct components to the initiative: Buy Here, Give Here and Grow Here.

Buy Here features local businesses that add value to the local community’s consumers. These businesses provide local options for diverse goods and services, while maintaining a high level of supportive customer service and community involvement.

Give Here features nonprofits that have a hand in solving one of the most pressing issues in the region: workforce availability. These nonprofits help develop and upskill today and tomorrow’s workforce to serve as community resources in supporting our workforce.

Grow Here features businesses that offer a product or service many businesses could benefit from, while also creating our close-knit, innovative and neighborly local business culture. The supplies and resources businesses require to grow and thrive are available locally.

You can see a full list of this year’s featured businesses and their stories on www.cedarrapids.org/buygivegrowhere. Reading through these stories of success, it’s impossible to not be inspired by the incredible business community we enjoy locally. From organizations with a presence here for 85 years, to businesses in their first few years of operation, so many of the goods, services and resources consumers and businesses seek are available within a few miles of their home or office. Additionally, local nonprofits are creating a better tomorrow for countless residents and improving our community for years to come.

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Many other programs and services of the Economic Alliance pay particular attention to the needs of small and locally owned businesses. The ‘why’ for us is easy. Local spending has a greater economic impact and helps sustain and grow the economy, a task at the core of why we exist. Many of these businesses are one-of-a-kind establishments that add to the unique fabric of a community. What makes this place different from everywhere else? Part of it is local businesses you can’t find anywhere else, and promoting that uniqueness is a key strategy in critical workforce development initiatives we drive.

The timing of this initiative consciously aligns with the holiday shopping season, with Small Business Saturday falling on November 30. I’m sure many of you reading this are spending your nights and weekends checking items off your gift list, and few of us are likely to shop exclusively local. I get it. The allure of a big-city shopping trip or the convenience of online shopping certainly plays a role in our household’s holiday prep, too, even with me harping at home about “buy local.”

But I challenge you whenever possible to consider your spending habits. Our community reaps the benefits of you supporting local businesses and nonprofits all year long. Make a conscious decision to reinvest your dollars right where you live and Buy Here, Give Here and Grow Here.

Doug Neumann is executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, a nonprofit focused on economic growth and business success in the region.

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