The Daily Yonder, an authority on rural issues, has a great read that affirms the economic development strategy in Ord and Valley County: small, local businesses speed income growth. Apparently, researchers at Penn State have found counties with more with locally-owned small businesses have stronger econonomic growth rates than those with firms owned outside the county.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have found that counties with more small, locally owned businesses have stronger economic growth than communities with larger businesses owned by outsiders. “Local ownership matters in important ways,” said economist Stephan Goetz who was co-author of the study with David Fleming, a Penn State graduate student. “Smaller, locally owned businesses, it turns out, provide higher, long-term economic growth.”
The reason is simple: local business owners don’t outsource – they buy local. That internal capacity builds upon itself and as the old saying goes, “a rising tide raises all ships.”
The article continues to point out that local economic development strategy should be internally focused on developing small businesses from within. At Valley County Economic Development, we couldn’t agree more. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might recall an article we published earlier this month called Rural Revitalization Starts From Within.
Just recently we articulated how this internally-focused strategy has not only grown our local economy but also created powerful systems that reinforce our small business community. Recall our sales tax program for economic development: since 2003, our fund (paid for by a 1% sales tax levy) has loaned over $2.2 million dollars to over 37 small businesses.
That’s not chump change. That’s real progress. These systems also lend to the major reason why our downtown is nearly full of businesses and why our sales tax receipts for economic development in the month of June were at a near record. Our strategy is perpetuating growth because of its internal focus. This doesn’t mean that we ignore recruitment projects when they come along. It means that our priority is to grow from within first. That should be every rural communities choice.
Someone from the outside isn’t going to save you. You can only save yourself.