I put up a post on Facebook and I got a few comments back on the topic of local businesses so I figured I would take a couple of minutes and elaborate.
Those of you that have connected to me on FourSquare know that I created a list of truly local businesses that I recommend. What I have certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but many great places. Here is what I look for on my list. The list is aimed at visitors to the city, and I have gotten feedback from visitors that they appreciated the list.
- Absolutely no big chains, this list is intended for local businesses. Some of these might be chains but are basically in the region.
- Don’t do naughty things. The property of local landlord Dennis Weestrand, who I fought last year and finally pressured into shutting down a house of prostitution and human trafficking, did not make the list. Though there are some great businesses who just lease from him (and help shut the aforementioned place down).
- Nothing against local franchises (I know some great local franchises like Great Harvest Bread) but this is to give truly local businesses an edge.
- The other side of the equation is have you have a corporation based locally, you get profits from elsewhere (thanks THINK, Mayo).
Local businesses keep money local.
- Corporate chains take profits from us back to where the corporate offices or large shareholders are. Further they are far less likely to use local suppliers, further taking money out of the community.
- Franchise fees also take money out of the community and frequently require supplies that are provided at a corporate level.
- Corporate advertising also take money that could be used in out community.
- Local affiliates also do little to help, while Charter Communications and CenturyLink may do some nice things in the community, the reality is the PROBABLY take a large net amount of dollars out of the community. I did pressure a rep from Charter Communications to provide me that number but he politely declined.
But being a local business does not make you infallible. On the City Council side we never want to make a poor decision based solely on someone being local. Lets say (entirely hypothetically) that we had a service provider that came in a distant last place in a multiparty competition judged by an independent committee and cost (oh I don’t know, lets say) $2 million more. It would be foolish to pick that company just because they were local. As a community leader my philosophy (where applicable) is that all things equal (or close) you chose the local company.
I do note the slight hypocrisy that was pointed out about my championing of the merger between Peoples Food and the Good Food Store Coops. In that case we are still community owned and I suspect that within 5 years Rochester residents will be the majority revenue base and owners of the coop. BTW, the new coop building going up is one of my proudest moments as a community leader. Much of the opposition has died down. The coop is being run better than ever. And one year from now we will have one of the most amazing coop facilities in the US.
There is my brain dump for the day.