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Buy Local Program

Written By Administrator On April 24, 2009

City of Orlando Launches Buy Local Program; Great Opportunity for Restaurants to Attract an “Eat Local” Crowd

The City of Orlando is in the midst of launching a “Buy Local” program designed to get consumers to spend more money at locally owned and independent businesses. Think of this as an economic recovery package from the inside out. The reasoning goes something like this:

Buy Local For every $100 you spend at a nonlocal chain, $13 comes back to the community’s tax base; the other $87 go off to wherever the chain’s headquarters are located. But if you spend that same $100 at a locally owned business, $45 of it stays in the community. That’s a big difference. So as a consumer it makes sense to spend your money at local businesses knowing that you get a better return on your investment in the form of better-funded municipal services.

Of course, you could do that on your own without a program from the city. But Buy Local Orlando will offer some incentives to do so. Businesses that sign up — and I’ll get to that in a moment — will display the Buy Local logo and will be listed on the city’s Buy Local Web site. Consumers can pick up a Buy Local card, which looks sort of like a credit card but is absolutely free, so it’s not like a credit card at all, beginning May 1st (I’ll have details about that next week). And when they present the card to a participating merchant they’ll receive a discount or perhaps something extra for their purchase. Each business will be responsible for setting its own discount or added-value policy.

The cards for consumers are free, but businesses have to pay a fee to be part of the program. But we’re not talking a tremendous amount of money here. The regular annual fee is $99, and considering the promotional advantages, at least potentially, that’s a pretty good bargain. But through the end of April, businesses can sign up as charter members for just $49. I’m thinking that’s a no-brainer. (And by the way, that $49 will take you all the way to Sept. 30, 2010 before the membership will come up for renewal. By then you’ll know if the program is worth it or not.)

And this all makes especial sense for restaurants, who fight for local dining dollars with out-of-state chains. I think most diners would prefer to spend their money in local restaurants. This program will help educate the consumer that there are added advantages to patronizing independent restaurants, not the least of which is often better food, but let’s not get started on that. And, with the planned advertising co-ops  and such, it will help point potential customers to the independents. Merchants will also get some discounted and free things too, such as business seminars and networking opportunities.

So I’m encouraging all Orlando restaurants to sign up and participate. Do it before next Friday and save 50 bucks. Merchants can go to the Buy Local Web site and fill out the registration form online. Consumers will start getting information on where to pick up a card beginning May 1st.

This is a good program. I’m so excited about it that I’m going to sign up Scott Joseph Company. I don’t know what kind of discount I’ll offer, but I’ll think of something.

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