Small, medium and local businesses are the heart of our community. They generate revenue for government services, jobs for families and young people and access to essential and unique goods and services. More than that they create culture, a sense of community and inspiration for many. They do this with some risk because they are determined innovators and leaders. The pandemic injected a risk factor not one of them could have predicted or had any control over. Still, they soldiered on.
They have been on the frontline of this war against COVID for 20 months. They willingly did what was necessary to preserve public health, even though they were not prepared to withstand immediate loss of revenue and long-term business interruption. Many business owners have demonstrated the resilience required to stay in business. We witnessed their creativity and tenacity with awe. One local immigrant entrepreneur started delivering healthy lunches to front line health workers. Another new owner of a printing company started manufacturing PPE. We have many stories like that in our city. Their value to our community cannot be overstated.
However, the loss of revenue and accumulation of debt related to the lock down and subsequent restrictions for reopening have left some businesses struggling to survive, particularly as we face the winter months. Many vital things in our society would be lost without them. And our economic recovery would be slowed. Their failure is our failure.
We shut down the economy with the flick of a switch, but our recovery will take time, thoughtful decisions and radical collaboration. The good news is that we are in the end game. Ottawa has one the highest rates of vaccinations among Canadian big cities and an impressive level of compliance among businesses for health protocols. Many businesses are participating in rapid testing programs for employees and have taken the POST Promise to declare their commitment to consumer and employee safety. We are the way to live with COVID.
Now it is our turn to demonstrate our gratitude and commitment to our community. How? It’s simple. Buy local. The key thing we can do, after vaccination, is to support our local businesses. They need us. Our consumer dollar is powerful. And each of us can shift our buying habits in a meaningful way. You already know all the reasons to shop local;
- Every dollar spent locally strengthens the local economy and generates local revenue
- Local businesses hire our friends and neighbours who in turn support our community
- Local businesses support our charities, sport teams and allow us to build amenities
- Local businesses support other local businesses thereby generating greater prosperity
- Local businesses offer high quality service and value-added advice and support
- Supporting local business today ensures future access to quality products and services
- Encouraging local entrepreneurship stimulates innovation and unique offerings
- Buying local is good for the environment, ultimately less expensive and feels good
- Buying local creates a mindfulness in spending, an experience in shopping and opens the opportunity for building new relationships
If there is one lesson we have learned through the pandemic, it is that we are all connected. Every business that survives the upcoming months will contribute our local economic recovery.
In your neighbourhood, that could mean one more job for your family or your friends, one more favourite eatery around the corner, one more supporter for your daughter’s soccer team. The connections are endless. Our future begins with you, and your decision to buy local.
So spread the word. Create a challenge. Can you dedicate 80, 90 or even 100 per cent of your spending to local businesses? Let’s make this the year for getting back to community. Start a new trend and enjoy the holiday season in a way that contributes to our community and our future. Put your money where your heart is.
For more information on #BuyLocalOttawa, and to put your money where your heart is, visit https://www.ottawabot.ca/buy-