Going Local: Just Makes Sense

Posted by Gabriel Moore
Gabriel Moore
My name is Gabriel Moore and I'm a first-year from South Carolina, hoping to bec
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on June 27, 2012
in Resilient Economy

After being in Oberlin for a full school year now, I???ve been fascinated by the local businesses and restaurants in town. All offer many goods and services at reasonable prices and still do very well, despite a Wal-Mart and several fast food restaurants located less than two miles away from downtown Oberlin. Sometimes, however, I wonder why I don???t just go down to Wal-Mart for convenience or their ???low low prices.??? And now, after listening to Michael Shuman???s passionate elegy for local investment, I no longer have that question to answer. And if I were a business owner, I???d listen up too. On April 10th, Michael Shuman, economist and prize-winning author, spoke at Oberlin College with the purpose of debunking myths about investing in your local community and promoting ways that Oberlin can get in on the action of supporting local business.

These myths actually seem credible at first glance. For example, one popular myth is that local businesses are not as profitable as their larger counterparts. As Shuman stated, ???If it were true that local, small businesses were less competitive. . .then we would have seen a dramatic drop in the small business economy.??? In fact, there has been no drop in the economy of home-based and local business compared to larger corporations. As Peter Buffett writes in the introduction to Shuman???s latest book, locally owned businesses have ???maintained their share of the US GDP since 1990???. Another myth is that local businesses lack a competitive edge, which, again, is false. This can easily be seen with a concern for everyone: oil prices. Rising oil prices means that local production of oil for consumption in the immediate area will become more competitive as foreign imports become more expensive. Shuman argues similar consequences with durable products as well. And one just has to walk down Main Street of Oberlin to see local competitiveness in action.

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