Buy Local; Invest in Maine People

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” ―Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s easy to get mired in the holidays. We stand in line, wait in traffic, and get pushed around in stores. But like the Grinch finally realizes, the holidays could be a little bit more.

During the holidays we can shop at local businesses. And the New Year gives us opportunities to make tax policy choices that support our resident entrepreneurs.

Buying locally and supporting locally-owned, independent businesses helps our neighbors, our communities, our schools, and our local institutions and charities. It keeps our dollars in the local community. MECEP’s study about buying locally in Portland found that every $100 spent at a local business contributes an additional $58 to the local economy. By comparison, $100 spent at a representative national chain store yields just $33 in local economic impact.

Frequenting homegrown shops also keeps local businesses strong, which costs communities fewer tax dollars to service; reduces environmental impact from sprawl and automobile air pollution; and keeps our downtowns vibrant and diverse.

The buy local movement in Maine is strong and growing. Yet, the choices we make as consumers are only part of the answer to creating stronger, more vibrant economies. We also have to engage as citizens to address the underlying tax and economic policies that favor big corporations over small businesses. Through tax loopholes and public subsidies, big companies escape paying the taxes that small businesses have to pay.

The governor and legislature are giving tax cuts to large corporations at the same time they’re slashing funds for education and shifting more taxes onto working families. What if Maine’s new legislature next year used the money spent on corporate giveaways to invest in the things that small businesses need like new product research, roads and bridges, and faster Internet? What if they invested in child care that allows parents to work? Or education and training that will put low-income, low-skilled adults back to work at higher wages? These are the budget choices that will really grow our economy.

Eliminating corporate tax loopholes and investing in Maine people would create a tax and budget system that would make even the Grinch smile.