Syracuse's buy local movement

Consider Syracuse First especially for the holidays

Chris Fowler is exactly the kind of brain trust Central New York is trying to keep.

Fowler gets the beauty, talent and convenience of this area. He came back home to Syracuse to make a difference. That difference is in the economy because if business is good, all will be well. So, first things first, he started Syracuse First, a nonprofit network of locally owned independent businesses, organizations and individuals.

What these groups have in common is a dedication to a "vibrant" local economy.

"We believe this network plays a vital role in enhancing the social fairness, community spirit, financial vitality and environmental health of the region by promoting the importance of purchasing from locally-owned, independent businesses," Fowler said.

But how would this work?

"We have the ability to change the economic realities of our community by changing our behaviors," Fowler said. "We are not talking about spending money that you do not have. No one knows better than the independent business community how difficult these economic times are. Nor are we asking for handouts from the already strapped federal, state and local governments. Instead, we are seeking to make changes in the allocation of the money that people are already spending. This augmentation can drastically change a community. It's as simple as A.B.C., which means Awareness = Behavior Change."

And interestingly enough the behavior change doesn't create a hardship, and often results in better quality goods and service. Consider that privately owned businesses often offer better service as there is more direct connection in the sale.

When we spend our money we don't often think of the end result. For example, if we go to a local discount retailer over a national big box retailer - more money spent stays in our community. A "local works study" conducted in Grand Rapids, MI, in the fall of 2008 by Civic Economics found, for every $100 spent at a local-independent business $73 stay in the community versus $43 at a non locally-owned business.

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