The recession that began in late 2007, and continues today, has had many adverse affects on Americans. Yet somehow the local economy of small towns in America are starting to notice resurgence. The small town I was born and raised in and recently bought a home in, Florence Township, New Jersey, (located along the Delaware River in Burlington County, NJ) is seeing an increase in local spending as of late, and I believe here are some reasons why.
The key element for consumers keeping their dollars local is being built on a foundation of efficiency. The days of buying cart loads of “stuff” for no apparent reason are fleeting. We hear constantly how our weakened consumer driven economy keeps us from growing nationally, but the unsung hero in this villainous tale is the lesson learned in efficiency. Customers at Florence Hardware, a local mom and pop hardware store, can no longer afford the 30 minute round trip fuel expense to go to the nearest Home Depot or Lowe’s superstores for their small project needs. Inflation in the price of gasoline (among other goods) set on a backdrop of unemployment, under-employment, and stagnant wages has taught residents to be more fiscally responsible and to take pride and enjoyment in their purchasing power. Another local business, Debbie’s Snack Shack, offers a low cost alternative to the entertainment budgets which in the past would be spent on dinner, deserts, a movie… or all three. Families now enjoy a home cooked meal and afterwards take walk to get ice cream and relax outside while taking in a free view of the Delaware River.
This brings me to my next reason for this resurgence: pride. Although inflation caused a forced lesson in efficiency, the results of the changing local demand are steadily rebuilding local pride; a pillar of society not long ago. This notion of pride is occurring both with residents and with the local government. Since government at a local level is far less removed from their constituents, those members share the feeling of local pride and recognize that the growth in local businesses helps the local community’s tax revenue as well. Take for example the Roebling Steel Mill in Florence Township’s borough of Roebling. This one time industry leader produced steel cables for the elevators in the Empire State Building in New York City, as well as the massive steel cables that hold up the Golden Gate Suspension Bridge in San Francisco, CA. After the steel mill closed in the 1970’s sadly the facility was left to decay. However with an improving local economy and an outlook of hometown pride shared by the local government, the facility now serves as a museum where its rich history can now be told.
Buy local and let’s not forget the importance of efficiency and pride, for the cost of doing so is often great.
(Roebling Museum informational website: roeblingmuseum.org)