Reason No. 3 to Buy Locally

You help create jobs

Small, independent businesses are the backbone of our local economy, in more ways than one. A crucial element by which locally owned businesses strengthen our local economy is through job creation.

In 2018, small businesses created 29,956 net new jobs.

Small businesses in Utah represent 99.3% of all the businesses in the state! In 2018, small businesses created 29,956 net new jobs, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of Utah’s who are either small business owners, or are employed by a small business.

Let’s take a moment to talk about small vs local. The small business administration defines a small business as one with 500 or fewer employees. Locally owned businesses are defined by local ownership, with owners residing in the state of Utah. Not all small businesses are local. Not all local businesses are small — but, most are.

Because of the way employment data is collected, it’s difficult to says with exactitude how many people are employed by locally owned, independent businesses, but we can make some very well-educated guesses.

There are 54,115 small businesses in Utah with 1-20 employees. Because of the way employment data is collected, we can’t say with 100% certitude that these businesses are local owned, but we’re going to go with our gut on this one, and recognize that these businesses are our beloved locals.

In the first quarter of 2018, these businesses employed 695,437 people, producing $3.6 billion in wages, providing their employees with an average monthly wage of $3,643.

In the first quarter of 2018, these businesses employed 695,437 people. Yep. More than half a million people are employed by these truly small, almost certainly local, undeniably independent businesses. These little indies produced $3.6 billion in wages, providing their employees with an average monthly wage of $3,643.

Unfortunately, there’s no delineation in the data between employing 1-20 people, and 21-499 people. Again, in our guts, we know that most of these businesses are local. It’s just hard to tell, because they don’t meet the “mom & pop shop” characteristics that we think of when we imagine locals. (Hey! If your business is one of these “big locals” joining Local First Utah is a really great way to set yourself apart from the pack and let your customers know that you are indeed, locally owned and independent.)

More often than not, when we think about local business job creation, we’re considering retail and restaurant jobs, because that’s who immediately comes to mind when we think local. But, Utah is home to incredible locally owned design agencies, architecture firms, small manufactures, accountant firms, law offices and so many more service based businesses.

Consider Cargo Link, a Local First Utah member business. They handle large scale importing and exporting — not what you traditional imagine when you’re thinking local. As a citizen, you probably don’t have a lot of importing and exporting needs, but some of the businesses you patronize might.

When you choose to shift your spending to locally owned businesses, you are helping to drive demand, which in turn enhances job creation. Now, you may spend so much money at your local coffee that they need to hire another barista to keep up (in which case, you may want to talk to you doctor about your caffeine intake), or your spending fuels their business in such a way that they are able to higher a local design agency to help them create t-shirts and beanies for their shop. They may need to higher a local accountant, or payroll firm to ensure they are checking all the right boxes come tax time. They might hire a local window washer or landscaper to keep their shop looking approachable and friendly.

Spend that same money with a national chain, and all of those extra job creation spurring impacts of your $5 cup of coffee are internalized by that corporation, leaving almost no net positive effect on our local economy.

When you buy locally, you’re playing an active role in the creation of local jobs, which strengthens our community.

Kristen Lavelett