In the smallest towns, bustling cities,
and everything in between, more citi-
zens lament losing a sense of com-
munity and local character. Meanwhile,
national chains continue displacing local-
ly-owned businesses countrywide.
This trend is considered symptomatic
of our loss of community orientation,
but could it also be a primary cause?
And what are the economic costs to our
communities as absentee-owned chains
displace locally-owned businesses?
Of course, we usually choose to do busi-
ness where we perceive the best value
for our time
But in an age
sands of cor-
t i s e m e n t s
It's as easy to
accept themes promoted in those corpo-
rate ads as it is to overlook the values
independent businesses provide us, both
personally and in our communities.
The disappearance of local businesses
leaves a social and economic void that
is palpable and real -- even when it goes
unmeasured, and a community's quality of
life changes in ways that macroeconomics
is slow to measure (or ignores completely).
Local officials often fall for the seduc-
tions and political appeal of national
chains and may even use public funds or
tax rebates to lure them. They're baited
with promises of jobs and tax revenue,
but they often fail to consider the greater
losses that occur when the local business
base is undermined.
A chain “superstore” may crow of creat-
ing 300 new jobs, but numerous studies
indicate they displace as many jobs as
they create. And when communities
like Barnstable, Mass. studied the local
impact of chains, they concluded such
development actually costs more tax-
payer dollars to support in safety and ser-
vices than the community would reap.
expect to pay
about all the
the big box chains claim they’ll bring?
That, too, is largely illusory. U