Economic Development, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

A strong local economy starts with you

September 25, 2017
TAGS Amazon
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The U.S. retail industry is changing. Acquisitions are happening every day. Big-box stores like MC Sports and Sears are closing or re-thinking the way they target today’s consumer. And earlier this summer, Amazon announced its $13.7-billion purchase of Whole Foods.

Many grocery store and small business owners are all asking the same question: How will Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods potentially affect me? While it’s still too soon to tell how it will impact the U.S. retail and grocery industries, we need to pay attention to how it will impact our local communities, local farms that grow our fresh fruits and vegetables, local distributors that deliver products to store shelves and local businesses that employ our friends and family members.

Here in West Michigan, we are blessed to have a strong local economy. We are home to a significant number of successful family-owned businesses and companies with deep roots in our community that have local, national and global reaches. Residents are proud to support their local grocery stores, coffee shops and car repair shops. They purchase local goods whenever possible. Thanks to the amazing community support of our local businesses, West Michigan is thriving in an ever-changing global economy.

Our strong local businesses, big and small, are what support our continued growth, attract families and professionals and make our community a great place to live. As we spend our dollars locally in our community, we are supporting families and returning those dollars to our neighborhoods through taxes and other local spending. In fact, studies show that 73 percent of revenue stays in the community when it is spent at a locally owned business versus a chain or franchise with a physical presence in our community. Up to 100 percent of all money spent online departs from our community the moment you close the transaction. And in 2016, over 50 percent of all online sales went to Amazon. We’re practically on the verge of turning it into a verb.

The bottom line: When we shop local, the benefits ripple throughout our community — from the locally owned corner convenience store, to the neighborhood surrounding that store, to the vendors and producers that supply that store.

That’s why communities like Grand Rapids are so special and unique. Our community’s success is built on local, family-owned businesses. We are fortunate to have strong locally owned, family-run grocery stores like Meijer, local brands like Founders Brewing Company that sell products on local, regional, national and global shelves and thriving small mom-and-pop shops in each of our vibrant neighborhoods.

We don’t know what the Amazon news means for West Michigan. But we do know one thing: Local is strong in West Michigan. Let’s continue to challenge ourselves to support local, avoid “Amazoning” when possible and keep our ecosystem of family-owned businesses strong for years to come.

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