This economy has wreaked havoc on many small and locally owned businesses. However, local non-chain stores pump more money back into the economy than large regional and national chains. The 3/50 Project is encouraging you to help stimulate your local economy by shopping local. The premise of the project is simple: choose your three favorite local businesses and pledge to spend at least $50 per month, in total, at these three businesses.

According to The 3/50 Project website, “If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.”

The important part of this project is locally owned independent businesses. The 3/50 Project data reports that 68 percent of money spent at a local store is returned to the community compared to 43 percent of the money spent at a regional or national chain.

The bad news for those of us who like to shop online is that 0 percent of the money we spend shopping online is returned to the community. I am a big fan of online shopping, but I never looked at the practice from this perspective. Now I’m going to have to reassess my holiday shopping plans.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest in the project, you may want to know how you get started. It’s really simple. Choose three businesses; these need to be non-franchise, locally owned, independent stores. They also need to be actual brick and mortar stores and not at-home businesses. Brick and mortar stores pay property taxes and at-home businesses don’t; this tax contribution is crucial to the local economy.

After you’ve chosen the three businesses that you want to support, plan on spending $50 each month at these businesses. This isn’t $50 per month, per business but instead, $50 each month spread out among the three businesses. If you’re having a difficult time finding local businesses to support, search through the database of supporters that already participate in The 3/50 Project.

Get your local businesses involved in the process, as well. Point them to The 3/50 Project website where they can register as a supporter, download a free flyer to hand out to customers, download graphics for their business website, and have access to several other resources. The more people to participate in this project, the more stimulating it is to your local economy.

Do you know which three businesses you’re going to pledge to support with your shopping dollars? My local coffee shop already gets a large portion of this $50 with the rest going to a locally owned independent restaurant. I need to pick one more business and then I’ll be an official participant in The 3/50 Project.

Photos: ®© Cinda Baxter, 2009. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.

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