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Understanding the importance of how much each of us impacts our local economy
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     Greetings! Now that Christmas 2009 is over and the New Year is here, it seems to be a good time to talk of how much each of us impacts our local economy. Over the last few weeks, we have made trips to the mall, to local "big box" stores like Walmart and K-Mart, and local "owner/operator" retailers. The other option is buying on-line from a variety of stores.
     Please allow me to present you with a very surprising set of business facts. For each dollar that is spent in Bulloch County in a locally owned store or restaurant, about 65 cents stays in the community in the form of taxes, payroll, and repurchasing.    That same dollar spent in a chain store will only leave about 35 cents in the community. However, if you buy on-line, then 0 cents stays in the community.
     This is a very important set of numbers that each of us needs to know about. A ride down Main Street in Statesboro or a look at any number of strip malls shows the number of stores that have closed. While some of the reason is due to the poor economy, much is also due to how we - the consumer - have changed our shopping habits. I love Bulloch County and want to see both the area and the people in the area become as successful as possible. After seeing the figures above, I hope you will realize the importance of supporting our local retailers.
     To those of you who might say, "Yes, but I save money in a chain store or on-line". My answer is a simple one. What do you consider savings? If by savings, you mean that you, personally, saved a few percentage points on a sale, then I agree with you. However, if you look at the overall viability and vibrancy of our wonderful town, then, is having an empty downtown, no local merchants to turn to when you need real help, and people in far off places - perhaps even overseas - that answers a service call, then the answer becomes much less obvious.
     Statesboro and Bulloch County have an ongoing program called the "3/50 Project", which addresses this issue. On Nov. 9, Jan Moore of this paper introduced us to the idea in a column she wrote. It is this type of commitment that each of us must do if we are to see our community grow and prosper. In short, here is what the "3/50 Project" is all about.
     Choose three local stores - they must be locally owned and operated stores, no big box or franchise stores - and then over a given month, spend $50 among those three stores. Continue this process on a month-by-month basis. In addition, learn about stores that may not be in your "comfort" zone. Visit stores you may not have ever visited or haven't been in for a while.
     Together, each of us - citizens of Bulloch County - can make a difference. We must make a stand if our community is to thrive. Consider what saving money really means, and if you find that there is more to a good buy than "just" the bottom line, visit one of the many excellent stores and restaurants in our area. I hope and pray that each of you have a very wonderful, happy, and prosperous New Year. Happy 2010!
Tom Grovenstein

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