Communities can only stay healthy if local businesses are strong and sustainable.
"Economic sustainability, along with social sustainability and environmental sustainability, is the bedrock for a strong and healthy community," Katja Macura, director of business services for LOCO BC, told more than 80 attendees at a Whistler Chamber of Commerce (WCC) lunch Tuesday, Dec.3
"Buying locally allows for the flow and recirculation of dollars within the community, and there probably isn't a business owner here that doesn't benefit."
LOCO is an alliance of local companies working to strengthen communities, grow the local economy, and build strong, sustainable businesses.
A study done by the organization, the Columbia Institute, and UBC's Sauder School of Business in May of 2013 found that local businesses re-circulate 2.6 times more revenue back into the economy than multinational clients.
"These businesses enhance our community, connect and support us socially, and enhance wealth and employment, which directly impacts jobs and wages in the community," said Macura.
LOCO found in a separate study last year that only a one per cent increase in B.C. consumer spending creates 3,100 jobs and $94 million in annual wages to B.C. workers.
And that's not all. "Local businesses tend to give back more to their community," explained Macura. "They increase the tax base, create strong supply chain relationships (and) from a tourism perspective they create and enhance a unique brand experience, and a spirit and pride of Whistler that visitors can take away from them."
The WCC holds the December holiday luncheon annually to give present and future members the chance to enjoy a festive feast and listen to speakers who strive to inspire a community dialogue that looks at the benefits of keeping dollars in our community.
Brad Mills, CEO of Mills Office Productivity, has over 30 years of experience in the office supply industry and has used innovative practices, as well as a passion for the environment and helping those in need, to successfully build his family's business.
Mills attended the luncheon as a guest speaker to tell his family's story and discuss the economic, environmental and social benefits of buying locally.
"We are working really hard to try and reduce our carbon footprint," said Mills. "We try to buy local as much as we can and support our local vendors. As a company, we will not buy offshore products."
Buy Local Week — a LOCO initiative to raise consumer awareness of the benefits of buying local — will take place from Dec. 3 to Dec. 8 across B.C. For more information about how you can get involved, visit www.locobc.com.
The annual lunch also saw the presentation for the summer Spirit ServeUs Challenge awards. The winners were: Accommodation, Whistler Premier Resorts; Blackcomb Lodge; Activities and Services, Whistler Visitor Centre; Cafe and Grocery, Starbucks — Village Common; Retail, Mountain Galleries at Fairmont Chateau Whistler; Restaurant and Pub, Creekbread.