Made in Central Oregon: Start Looking

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While the November 20 issue of Cascade Business News is dedicated to products made in Central Oregon, there’s a much bigger picture that we, as business people, should consider. First let’s talk about buying local products. We are amazed at the myriad of products that are made right here in Central Oregon — products that make exceptional gifts for the holidays, in fact anytime of the year.

Each year, when we develop our list of Made in Central Oregon buying guide, we’re pleased to see new items added. In addition, given recent challenges in our economy, it is noteworthy that numerous companies are growing and prospering in Central Oregon.Don’t miss the most important point in buying locally — the impact it can have on our economy is enormous. When you shop at local establishments (rather than sitting at home and ordering from a catalog or on line) all of the money you spend stays right here in this community.

However, we challenge you to go even a step further and begin by reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA — the job you save may be your own or your neighbors.As a local business, in fact, this is a concept you should strive to adhere to all year long. Buying office supplies, computers and furniture from local businesses means keeping your neighbors, your friends, your family members employed.

It means strengthening our economic vitality, which benefits every single person around you. Another appealing aspect of buying from a local merchant is the ability to receive personal service and direct contact with a company that backs up its products.Hiring local contractors and using local services from financial advisors and advertising agencies to accountants and internet designers.

One has to question why many of our public entities continue to overlook qualified professionals when hiring architects, engineers, contractors and design teams. We continue to advocate for a local preference in hiring practices with our cities, counties and colleges.

Most produce in the U.S. is picked four to seven days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1,500 miles before being sold. And this is when you consider only U.S. grown products. Those distances are substantially longer when we factor produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America and other places. We can only afford to do this now because of the artificially low energy prices that we currently enjoy.

We do this also to the detriment of small farmers by subsidizing large scale, agribusiness-oriented agriculture with government handouts and artificially cheap energy. So put on your list this year to think about buying locally grown food products whenever possible.

Your food will taste better, you’ll strengthen the local economy, support endangered family farms, safeguard your family’s health and protect the environment with less use of energy and reduction of dioxide emissions.

Check out the market for Central Oregon Locavore. The permanent indoor Farmers Market in Bend at 1216 NE First Street houses products from over 250 local farmers and food producers or use the online marketplace at orders@centraloregonlocavore.org.

By choosing local and independent businesses for your services, shopping, dining and other needs, you not only get real value and personal service, you’re helping to grow and sustain our regional economy.

Top Ten reasons to Think Local – Buy Local – Be Local

1. Buy Local — Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community. Studies show that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.

2. Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250 percent more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

3. Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit.  “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, president, National Historic Preservation Trust

4. Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

5. Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, providing the most jobs to residents.

6. Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

7. Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future. 

8. Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.

9. Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

10. Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

From www.sustainableconnections.com

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