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        Two weeks before the election and what should I talk about?
        How about the presidential election? (wretching sound)
        How about discussing the bailout (raspberry), the do-nothing Congress (Bronx cheer) or even Sarah Palin (bang - mooooooose - thud).

        Nah, I want to talk about local business.
        With the national economic condition, I think America needs to get back to what it used to do best - decentralization. While I have certainly preached this for government - since local government can more properly respond to its citizens than the goons in Washington - I also think decentralization of business can be a benefit to economic stability.

        Before I support this position, let me discuss the converse - large corporations.
        There are a number of ways large corporations benefit the general public - a.k.a customers. The corporation has greater bargaining power with producers, which allows them to push down the unit price for all consumers. It can also buy larger quantities of product, which also pushes down the price. In addition, with large fleets and bank accounts, the corporation can bring in product from farther afield and give its customers a much wider variety that would otherwise be available.

        Lower prices and wider variety. Not necessarily, greater quality, mind you.
        But the world-wide economy is screeching to a halt. With inflated property values falling back to normal, we no longer have the proceeds from the sale of real estate growing the economy. In essence, the country has been running on borrowed money for at least 15 years. The chickens have come home to roost.

        So, how do we get ourselves out of this predicament? Support local business.
        You might be thinking, "Phil, that's such an easy thing to say, but hard to live by. I'm so busy, it's simply easier to do my shopping at one place or get a better deal in a bigger city."

        Well, I agree with you. It is easier to walk into one big store or shopping center. It might even save you a bit of time. But there are certain advantages that spending money at a local shop can afford you.

        First, money is spent close to the top. By that I mean the customer either hands cash directly to the owner or the owner is just a few steps away from the transaction. This gives the customer a control over their service that they simply don't get at a corporate store because the local owner needs to be more responsive to their customers. Their livelihood depends on it.

        For all those who complain about the service at the store-which-will-not-be-named, try out some of these local joints. I think the personal service will be worth the extra few pennies spent.

        Second, supporting a local establishment gives the community a unique flair that is unattainable with a town full of big-box stores. After all, a box store is a box store, no matter where it's located. That uniqueness gives a community its identity.

        You never see the Food Network highlight the place that serves mozzarella sticks and has all kinds of crappola all over the wall. It's always the distinctive places that get the nod.

        Third, supporting the local business community has the most impact on the local economy. Local establishments mean local jobs, which means money stays in the area - no corporate masters to siphon off some of the proceeds. In addition, local business can be less impacted by worldwide financial crises and fuel prices, especially if production is done here locally.

        One last thing. I went to the Downtown Farmer's Market/Sustainability Fair on Saturday. There's no doubt organic farming has virtually no negative impact on the environment while, at the same time, it reuses materials that might otherwise be turned into waste. In addition, organic farming is primarily local.

        Bottom line: support your local farmers, businesses and investors. Especially in down times, the local economy will be glad you did.

        Phil Boyum felt a slight pang of guilt from drinking out of a styrofoam cup at the Sustainability Fair. He may be reached at (912) 489-9454 or by e-mail at

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