Simply Living began an initiative last year to strengthen central Ohio communities by supporting efforts to rebuild our local economy (see also our Transition Initiative). We formed a steering committee with representatives from the following key resource organizations:
1) Small Business Beanstalk (SBB), which promotes local, independently owned businesses and includes more than 400 members;
2) Local Matters, which advocates for local, sustainable food systems that are accessible to all;
3) Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), which trains local entrepreneurs, provides micro loans to small businesses, and operates an Invest Local Ohio fund to support their services.
4) KEMBA, a cooperative Credit Union that serves central Ohio and advocates "banking local" through credit unions and community banks that keep our money in the local economy;
Our Vision: Tto create a thriving local economy that functions in harmony with local ecosystems to meet the basic needs of all people, support just and democratic processes, and foster joyful community life.
Our Mission is twofold: 1) Educate, network with and involve Central Ohio citizens to support our local economy; and 2) Provide services to support, maintain, and encourage locally owned, independent businesses that create stable jobs and a vibrant local economy.
The SOLE coalition received a $15,000 seed grant from the Columbus Foundation in June. SOLE also joined the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). This affiliation allows us to network with 80+ BALLE networks across the country and share strategies and best practices that promote local economic development.
SOLE launched our "$2 bill campaign" at Comfest and volunteers have exhibited at several local community events. $2 bills are stamped with the phrase "Spend Me Local" and are intended to start conversations about the benefits of buying local. A chart on the SOLE website explains that when you spend $100 at a local, independently owned store, $68 stays and recirculates in the local economy. By contrast, spending $100 in a national chain store keeps only $43 in the local economy. That $25 difference that "leaks out" of state to investors and suppliers is a problem that we can all work to change by "Thinking Local First" when we purchase goods and services. A 10% shift from chain to local in Franklin County would retain more than 300 million dollars that would have leaked out of our economy, and those dollars would generate more than 5000 new jobs in central Ohio and generate more tax dollars to support public sector services.
The $2 bill campaign will take shape this fall and create buzz for buying local this holiday season. Visit the campaign's website and check out 10 reasons why buying local benefits you and our community. If you would like to learn more and be involved, contact Chuck Lynd <firstname.lastname@example.org> and start getting updates on SOLE activities. Volunteers are always needed to help at exhibits, prepare and distribute literature, keep our website up to date, and use social media to help spread the word.