The importance of 'shopping local' for sustainable NC business growth
Monday, December 4, 2023
Small Business Saturday has come and gone and the North Carolina Sustainable Business Council urged people to keep "shopping local" this season.
The council said supporting homegrown businesses creates jobs and makes communities healthier. One of those businesses is the Little River Pecan Farm, with 100 pecan trees on a 10-acre section of sixth-generation land.
Crissy Neville, the farm's owner, emphasized the need to support local growers. She said shopping at local farms and agro-tourism sites preserves family businesses, but can also benefit the environment.
"Shipping is not involved, trucking is not involved," Neville pointed out. "Essentially, you know, you're buying locally, and that's the best thing that you possibly could do for lowering your carbon footprint."
Neville cited the added benefit of knowing where your food comes from. Studies estimate processed food in the U.S. travels more than 1,300 miles, and produce may travel more than 1,500 miles before reaching the table if it is not grown locally.
Rebekah Miel, owner of Miel Creative Studio in Durham, works with purpose-driven organizations to help them amplify their work. She pointed out local businesses often help their communities in ways beyond offering their products or services.
"Small businesses donate 250% more to local nonprofits and community causes," Miel explained. "That is also exemplified in our business. Our 'Design to Give' model means we give at least 5% back to local nonprofits, 1% of which is to local environmental nonprofits."
Anne Shaw, state director for the Small Business Center Network, said there is nothing "small" about the power of small companies. Their overall contribution to the workforce is enormous.
"The 1 million small businesses that exist in North Carolina, they employ 1.8 million employees," Shaw emphasized. "Which represents about 44% of North Carolina employees."
Shaw added research also shows on average, a local retailer will recirculate about 48% of their revenue back into the local economy, compared to about 14% of revenue from a national chain.
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