Our local independent businesses are the backbone of our economy.  They provide the majority of business jobs while accounting for the biggest share of sales in the county.

Additionally, they help to bind our communities together.  Locally owned businesses retain their profits in the community and are more likely to purchase businesses inputs and professional services from other community businesses.  Therefore, fewer dollars leak out of the local economy.

Local businesses will also tend to support local causes while national businesses to tend to make charitable donations to national organizations and in the communities surrounding their distant headquarters.

There are numerous studies that have proven unequivocally that local businesses provide a superior return over national chains.

For example, a study from the Maine Center for Economic Policy concluded that $100 spent at a locally-owned business generates an additional $60 in local impact.

That same $100 spent at a national chain-store generates only an additional $33 in local impact.

This is 78 percent greater return to the local economy by local business activity.

The Orange County Economic Development Department should actively promote and support our local business community by compiling a comprehensive database of local, independent businesses detailing the goods and services that each one provides.

In addition to directing more customers to our local businesses, there are other potential uses for this tool.  Businesses could be offered the opportunity to list waste products they may generate and waste products that they could use.

For example, one business may generate shredded paper and another business may need packing materials.  This information could save them money and keep usable material out of the waste stream.

We’re expecting an influx of new residents all over the county.  But, let’s look specifically at Hillsborough which has approved about a thousand new residential units.

Many of these new folks will come from other regions.  In the absence of a comprehensive guide to local businesses, they would likely jump on the interstate and head for the nearest mall to get the things they need.

Imagine if they were informed of local business directory as soon as they moved here.  Many of them would choose local shopping options and immediately begin injecting more money into our communities than the big chains.  And they would begin connecting with our community on a personal level.

A county database of local independent businesses would strengthen our community’s economically and strengthen our connections with our neighbors.

The businesses are already there, let’s do our best to support them.


— Mark Marcoplos