Why Keeping It Local Matters

We’re living in a time where you can purchase almost anything, from nearly anywhere, with a couple of mouse clicks. Immediate gratification is an Amazon Prime membership away. And yet, despite seemingly unlimited access to global goods, the buy local movement continues to pick up steam. With its growing popularity, this movement has helped support a new generation of small business owners who are now making their mark in Ontario. It might seem counter-intuitive, but while e-commerce is booming, many young people are pushing back, and showing they still value community engagement and environmental awareness over same-day shipping.

Why Choose Local?

By now, we’ve all heard something about the importance of buying local. While it might be easy to write off as yet another hashtag trend, it is so much more than that. Many Ontarians are consciously choosing to buy local as a means of supporting the local economy, environment and community, and their numbers are only rising.

The Local Economy: It might seem obvious, but it’s necessary to point out that buying local is an essential part of stimulating Ontario’s economy. According to Stats Canada, 97.9% of Canadian businesses qualify as small businesses, making up 70.5% of private sector employment. Buying local means supporting new and innovative businesses– the very businesses that make Ontario unique, and keeps over 66% of the province’s labour force employed.

The Environment: The David Suzuki Foundation is a strong advocate for buying local, especially when it comes to food. According to their article Food and Climate Change, “the average meal travels 1200 km from farm to plate.” It’s easy to see how purchasing locally-produced food and other products can drastically decrease transportation emissions and lower your carbon footprint, and the difference in quality is palpable.

Community: The Buy Local movement is about connecting with one another and building relationships that unite communities. Supporting local businesses means participating in shaping the future of your neighbourhood and investing in Ontario’s diverse entrepreneurial culture.

Banking local

It’s clear that buying local and supporting small businesses is a vital part of building strong communities in Ontario. So it would only make sense for the Buy Local movement to focus on banking locally as well. As the next generation of Ontario entrepreneurs understands, the choice to belong to a credit union means fostering growth through local investment and small business support, and the pride of ownership that comes from being a member.

Local Investment: Whereas the banks answer to their largest shareholders, credit unions are owned by their members and keep every last dollar invested in the communities they serve. Keeping money local means creating more jobs and generating greater opportunities for the local economy to grow. On the other hand, a relationship with the big banks takes money out of the system, to be redistributed and reinvested as the banks see fit.

Small Business: Credit unions have a reputation for helping the little guy. A CBC News analysis entitled “Credit unions and small business, a match made in heaven” points out that credit unions “often lend based on character, drive and passion — there’s no box to check for those attributes on the big banks’ official application forms.” Where small business financing is concerned, banks defer most decisions to head office, where the lack of community connection leaves many entrepreneurs in the cold. Conversely, credit unions rely on local decision-making to get it right, and view themselves as partners in their members’ success.

Pride of Ownership: Being part of a credit union is something you can be proud of. Because every member of a credit union is a shareholder, you have a say in how your money is being invested. Credit union members can feel secure knowing their money is directly supporting their personal success, as well as their community’s growth through direct investment in local businesses and other worthwhile initiatives.

The buy local movement is founded on the simple notion that small, thoughtful decisions can support big ideas. Choosing to buy local, like choosing to bank with a credit union, means caring about the things that make Ontario special and investing in the future of Ontario’s economy.