The concept of buying local is not new. It’s commonly understood that if we support local merchants with our purchasing power, we can help keep our local economy vibrant and strong.
This makes sense. It also keeps local dollars here versus in the big box stores of Chittenden County. Buying locally reduces the influence and reach of online shopping as well as the number of delivery trucks on our roads. Buying locally saves time. It’s an hour each way to get to the big box stores.
But the concept can and should extend beyond retail purchases. It should be de rigueur for all of us – but specifically our local town governments – to favor or give added weight to proposals from local vendors and services providers, whether the proposal is for mowing, technical services or construction projects.
Select boards and other boards that make spending decisions are absolutely tasked with keeping taxes down and minding the bottom line. But that mandate should also be balanced with the need to support local businesses when possible.
Local businesses need and should get the support of local residents but also of local municipalities. We should aim to think local first when making purchases and buying services to reduce our carbon footprints and to support each other. We are literally all in this together when it comes to economic viability and making sure we have local businesses to support.
Waitsfield has a purchasing policy that spells out just that; the town will try to hire local businesses when possible and will also factor in environmental concerns such as the use of recycled or reclaimed materials and how far goods, services and providers must travel to get to Waitsfield.
This makes sense and it is something that other local select boards, entities, agencies and nonprofits should consider. The bottom line is always important, but supporting each other is equally important.
We can do a lot more to support the local economy if we collectively work to do so. Having our governmental leaders get on the bandwagon would do a lot to spread that message.
The tax dollars from our wallets should stay in our communities when possible.