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The Karavans masthead photograph was taken by Colorado mountain biker and photographer Timmy Pitschka.

Local Economy
Healthy communities require strong local economies

Many people are beginning to understand that locally-owned businesses are much more beneficial to a community than businesses operated by absentee owners or large chains with little or no concern for the local residents and the well-being of their community. Around the U.S. and in other countries, citizens and businesses are beginning to support each other for the benefit of everyone in the community.

The pitfalls of globalization

In effect, Americans threw away their communities in order to save a few dollars on hair dryers and plastic food storage tubs, never stopping to reflect on what they were destroying. The necessary restoration of local networks of economic interdependence, and the communities that rely on them, will be a  major theme later in this book.
                                               (Quote from The Long Emergency)

Jeff Vail provides a fresh perspective on globalization. Ask yourself if you would be better off living in a country which can supply most of its own necessities or in one with a narrow specialization such as providing cheap labor to foreign garment manufacturers.  Article.

More on Globalization coming soon.

Complementary Currencies

One means of building a sense of community is by having members use a complementary local currency whenever possible to pay for the purchases of goods and services. During the great depression economic hardship was exacerbated for average Americans by the shortage of money after the Federal Reserve cut back on the supply.

Local currency is a currency not backed by the national government and intended for trade only in a small area such as a town or region. These currencies are also referred to as community currency. Complementary currency and local currency are often used as synonyms.

Advocates such as Jane Jacobs argue that this enables an economically depressed region to pull itself up, by giving residents a medium of exchange that they can use to exchange services and locally-produced goods (In a broader sense, this is the original purpose of all money.) Opponents of this concept argue that local currency creates a barrier which can interfere with economies of scale and comparative advantage, and that in some cases it can serve as a means of tax evasion.

Local currencies can also come into being when there is economic turmoil involving the national currency. An example of this is the Argentine economic crisis of 2002 in which IOUs issued by local governments quickly took on some of the characteristics of local currencies.

More information on community currencies.

Local Economy
Resources on how to revitalize the local economy

Fuel shortages have the potential to choke off a substantial portion of global trade. In the event that this occurs, nations and communities will need to begin producing local substitutes for goods currently produced in distant low-wage regions such as China.

According to Lester Brown, "Restructuring the global economy so that economic progress can be sustained represents the greatest investment opportunity in history." Brown sees the growth of new localized industries related to renewable energy, food production, appropriate technology, efficient transportation,
green design, bioremediation, sustainable agriculture, and rooftop gardening, as the world enters into power descent

Sources of information on building healthy local economies include:

American Independent Business Alliance
Helps communities and locally-owned businesses mutually support each other

Andersonville Study of Retail Economics

This is a study conducted in Chicago. The study found: Local merchants generate substantially greater economic impact than chain retailers.  Development of urban sites with directly competitive chain merchants will reduce the overall vigor of the local economy. Modest changes in consumer spending habits can generate substantial local economic impact. For every $100 in consumer spending with a local firm, $68 remains in the Chicago economy vs. $43 for spending at a chain store. For every square foot occupied by a local firm, local economic impact is $179 vs. $105 for a chain store

Benefits of Doing Business Locally

Benefits to communities and citizens in patronizing local businesses

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Building long-term economic empowerment and prosperity in communities through local business ownership, economic justice, cultural diversity and a healthy natural environment.

Buying Local and the Circulating Dollar

Often local business prices are lower than chain stores, and the money you spend there stays in the community.

Local Ownership Pays Off for Communities

Financial benefits to the community of locally-owned businesses

The Home Town Advantage

Reviving Locally-Owned Business - From the New Rules Project

More resources will be added shortly.

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