It’s hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner. At this special time of the year, I like to remind Chandler residents of the critical benefits of shopping locally. In the past few years, the City of Chandler launched a campaign called “Invest Wisely, Shop Chandler” to encourage everyone to spend their dollars at stores and restaurants located within the City limits. The initiative was meant to help strengthen our local economy and maintain the quality of life that we have come to enjoy.

As I have shared before, our local economy is heavily reliant on sales tax revenue generated by transactions that occur within our city boundaries. The revenue from every dollar spent in Chandler helps support core municipal services such as police and fire protection, parks and recreation programs, road improvements, and much more. In that respect, money spent anywhere in Chandler benefits our community. On the other hand, online purchases with out-of-state companies don’t bring anything back.

It is important that we continue to help independent businesses in our community. They are the backbone of Arizona’s economy. Locally owned businesses have vested interests in the region and therefore, they are more likely to invest through corporate giving. In fact, many of our youth organizations, food banks and social service agencies rely on donations they receive from the private sector to operate.

Moreover, independent businesses tend to reinvest more of their dollars in the community by contracting with local suppliers. This may not be the case with chain stores that don’t typically rely on local goods and services and send a large percentage of their profits back to corporate headquarters, often in other states. Numerous studies show that there is a multiplier effect for shopping at community-based stores. When we spend 100 dollars at a local independent store, 40 to 45 dollars gets filtered back into the community compared to 10 to 15 dollars if we spend it at a chain business.

Numbers aside, patronizing small businesses also builds civic pride and community involvement. Residents are more likely to stay in a community if they feel connected to it. There’s nothing like a shop owner who knows his clients by name and has the expertise to provide for their needs. When such ties with the business community exist, people are more likely to volunteer, vote, attend events and contribute to charities.

These concepts are not new to us, but it is easy to fall into the temptation of shopping at the last minute at large retail stores or online. The city of Chandler and the nonprofit agency Local First have created websites designed to remind residents of the importance of shopping locally. The websites www.chandleraz.gov/shop and www.localfirstaz.com provide business directories and other tools to make informed consumer decisions.

While celebrating the season, let’s make a concerted effort to patronize retail stores and restaurants in Chandler. Our collective contributions help our community retain the quality of life that we have enjoyed so far.

• Rick Heumann serves on the Chandler City Council.

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