By Colleen McAleer
Economic Development Corp.
Brrrr!!! February. It may be the shortest and coldest month of the year but it holds the promise of longer days ahead that no longer will bring icy roads and ski jackets.
This month also includes my favorite day of the year, Valentine’s Day, the day when chocolate, placed in heart-shaped boxes, represents the gift of love and commitment. It is the day when Cupid aims his arrow. It is the day to show not only the love of your family, but also your commitment to local establishments.
What better way to warm up the day than to stop at the Blackbird Coffeehouse for their made-from-scratch Sweet Cream Biscuit. Or how about a trip to Swain’s General Store or Paisleys Boutique and buy your favorite person a comfy sweater or cozy slippers to keep them warm at night.
Who needs an Amazon next day delivery when we have such wonderful establishments in our own back yard? Clallam County can celebrate Valentine’s Day all year long.
Love is not the only exchange that takes place on Valentine’s Day. According to recent surveys, total spending may reach $19.6 billion in the United States. Wallet Hub reports that men spend an average of $339 on Valentine’s Day. Do you hear that, honey? (I can’t wait to see what I’ll get now).
I won’t bore you with a lot of facts and figures of why shopping local is important to our communities. But I will share with you two pieces of well-researched information that have lasted the test of time.
If half the employed population in the United States spent $50 each month in locally owned businesses it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. What’s in your wallet?
For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 is returned to the community. If you spend that in a national chain store, only $43 stays local. Spend it online and nothing comes home. What has Amazon done for us lately?
Buying merchandise is a good transactional event in a relationship with a business but is it possible to provide a transformational gesture? If it is the thought that counts, and we all know that it is, let’s look at what else can be done for local businesses on days other than the 14th. After all, you would not buy chocolates for your loved ones to show your appreciation only one day a year.
As your Economic Development director for Clallam County, one of my favorite responsibilities is to play cupid for our businesses and the community. So here are some ideas that will be at the end of my arrows.
Introduce new and effective ways to best use your social media to promote local businesses internally and externally.
Identify and celebrate milestones that Clallam County businesses have achieved.
Help start-ups earn recognition by introducing them to the community.
Meet with banks and new funding agencies to advocate for additional access to capital.
Identify group purchasing when local businesses can’t purchase items locally to reduce costs.
Encourage local governments to adopt a policy to give a preference to local bidders.
Cupid is sometimes depicted as being blindfolded — thus the saying that love is blind. Clallam County should not be blind to the wonderful locally owned businesses that exist here. Where there is great love, there is a healthy community. Show the love.
Colleen McAleer, who is also a Port of Port Angeles commissioner, writes this column as the executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). The column will be a regular feature to update readers on the plans and accomplishments of the EDC.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Economic Development Corp. board of directors.