With its highly skilled workforce, renowned educational institutions, and high quality of life, Mercer County ranks as one of the most attractive locations to call home and to open a business. From the retail industry to the service sector, Mercer County offers customers a large variety of quality products and services. Today, Mercer County is proud to be the home to approximately 4,000 independently owned and operated businesses. These businesses are the backbone of the Mercer County business community.
In turn, these local businesses invest their dollars back into the local economy. They purchase inventory and services from throughout the region and employ local residents. Although there are many studies that clearly substantiate the importance of these businesses, two statements demonstrate profoundly the "buy local" concept.
- For every $100 spent at a chain, there is a $14 return to the community. For every $100 spent at a local business, there is a return of $45 to the community.
- Average U.S. town revenues without a buy local initiative grow at 2.3% per year while average U.S. town revenues with a buy local initiative, grow at 7% per year.
Besides the economic development impact, local stores promote environmental sustainability. These businesses help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
A buy local campaign that engages local businesses and citizens can be a powerful tool to help sustain independent businesses and neighborhood-serving business districts.
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Importance of Buying Local
There are many reasons to support your local business. Not only does buying local support local merchants and strengthen the municipal tax base, it also creates environmentally friendly practices. For example, gasoline consumption can be significantly reduced because individuals will shop locally rather than drive long distances to their retail destination. In addition, locally owned businesses create strong communities that bring together neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships.
Most recently, buy local campaigns have emerged throughout our region and country due to the compelling data from a variety of independent studies. In their annual survey, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance demonstrates the profound impact that buy local programs have on the community. Please click on the 2014 survey for all the details of this study.
Finally, the American Independent Business Alliance presents overwhelming data on the benefits of buying local and how to organize a well-planned campaign.
Buy Local Programs
Mercer County has several buy local campaigns that encourage local business growth. These organizations help pull together resources for the promotion of local businesses and, at the same time, bring awareness to the local community of the importance of buying local. Some of the initiatives in Mercer County include the following:
- Shop Hamilton - Business development group established to promote the local and independent businesses in Hamilton.
- Keep It Local Robbinsville - An organization founded for the promotion of Robbinsville small businesses, the support of local charities, and the encouragement of residents to complete the circle of support and need.
- Lawrenceville Main Street - A volunteer-led organization dedicated to fostering a sense of community and continuing the revitalization of Lawrenceville's historic downtown area by organizing events, building partnerships, cultivating the business environment, and enhancing the physical setting of the Village of Lawrenceville.
- Princeton Merchants Association - The Association seeks to create a vibrant and sustainable local economy in Princeton by attracting, nurturing, and maintaining a mix of businesses that serve the economic, social and material needs of our community and make Princeton a great place to live and work.
- Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Independent Business Alliance - The Independent Business Alliance (iba) promotes local independent businesses and facilitates networking and education with a focus on developing growth strategies for independent businesses in the Princeton Region.
Municipal Green Teams and Sustainable Organizations
Several towns in Mercer County have created "Green Teams" and/or Environmental Commissions that focus on environmentally sustainable living practices. Sustainable Jersey encourages the implementation of buy local campaigns as being beneficial for both the local economy and the environment. Contact your local municipality to see if there is an active organization in your town.
- Sustainable Lawrence - A large group of residents, businesses, congregations, and other organizations dedicated to creating a sustainable community in Lawrence Township.
- Ewing Green Team - An entity formed to promote environmental best practices and to help Ewing "go green", save money, and take steps to sustain the Township's quality of life over the long term.
Buy Local Workshops for Businesses
In our continued commitment to this business community, Mercer County has teamed up with America's Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) at The College of New Jersey to create training for employers and employees. The information will focus on educating companies on the impact of buying local; creating customer awareness of your business and its products and services; developing effective marketing techniques; and offering examples of successful campaigns from local businesses.
If you are interested in learning more about the ASBDC and its workshops, please feel free to contact them at (609) 771-2947 or visit them at http://sbdc.pages.tcnj.edu/services/.
Our local businesses are the backbone of a strong economy and essential for continued employment opportunities and overall economic growth. By partnering with our "buy local" organizations, the local business community and the ASBDC, Mercer County will ensure a strong and vibrant economy for years to come.