Definition of local business: A business that is owned by a person or family whose primary residence is in Arizona. The business cannot be publicly traded. Qualified businesses with multiple locations are included.
The city of Phoenix is facing an unprecedented surge in growth, and city leaders are working hard to make a livable downtown that will sustain the addition of 15,000 new ASU students plus 1,800 faculty and staff, the employees of the TGen project, and massive additions to housing and retail space. In Phoenix, we still have the opportunity to keep our downtown unique and thriving, a combination vital to our quality of life and sense of place. Many people across the country are feeling a sense of loss in their communities due to the homogenization of their downtown corridors. The disappearance of local businesses is palpable and real. It is time to consider the real loss a community experiences when it loses its local business base, and choose instead to invest in our local economy, cultivate consumer choice, encourage cultural diversity and ensure that our hometown maintains its own unique character.
From Barnstable, Mass., to Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Fullerton, California, communities are becoming politically active and rejecting the hollow promises the chain stores offer. Local business is a critical part of the social fabric of any community and helps to build tradition, pride and commitment.
We can move towards becoming another bland, commercialized, and divided town where gated communities, private security services, and chain stores are prominent features. Or we can remain unique, beautiful, and open to new cultural expressions through the encouragement and development of our local business community.
To conclude, big box development should be shunned. New Mexico is home to 8 empty Wal-Mart carcasses alone. Chain stores dilute local character – a Wal-Mart in Tuscaloosa is much the same as one in Carlsbad. Other statistics to keep in mind that were noted in 2004:
- We have more than 4,000 abandoned shopping malls in America.
- We have more shopping centers than high schools.
- We have 20 square feet of retail space for every man, woman and child in America, up from 14.7 square feet per person in 1986, compared with 2 square feet per person in Britain.
- Local business owners have a natural interest in the long-term health of our downtown community.
- Local businesses statistically stock more locally manufactured goods.
- More of the profits at locally owned businesses re-circulate in the community.
- Locally owned businesses use small manufacturers and a wide variety of service industries (accountants, insurance brokers, attorneys, computer consultants, architects, sign makers, cabinet makers, advertising agencies, etc.) that have a clear stake in the sustainability of our city.
- Locally owned businesses make a city unique.