by Sheri Heiney, President & CEO, Prescott Chamber of Commerce

We hear the phrase “buy local” often, yet do we ever really think about what it means?

Buying local is so much more than shopping at a local business; it is about keeping jobs in our communities, supporting our youth and elderly; living a healthier lifestyle; and building strong, vibrant communities.

First, let’s look at the definition of buying local. It is buying something from a business in your area owned by a member of the community who has decision-making control over the business and business operations.

These businesses are owned and/or managed by people who live and work in our communities — raising their families and investing in our communities’ futures. They support our churches, schools, organizations and increase our quality of life to improve the health of our communities overall.

Often we equate buying local with paying higher prices. In some instances that may be the case, but not always. If we shift our mindset to think about the bigger picture and impacts as consumers, shopping local can increase variety, create more competition and, over time, stimulate a more diverse marketplace.

Today we are all more health conscious, and knowing where your food comes from is equally important. Fortunately in Prescott, we have many great options for buying local food. We can visit a farmers market, buy directly from a farmer or rancher or shop at grocery stores featuring Prescott grown and processed products.

Over time, buying local can improve the variety of services and goods offered in your community, which will bring more people to the area to shop. It also can create higher paying job opportunities, which creates local prosperity. It is a way for consumers to invest in the community, support their neighbors, schools, churches and nonprofits, as well as reduce environmental impacts.

Before you venture too far from home to do your shopping, stop and think about how your dollar can be better put to use in the community you live in.

For more information about the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.prescott.org or call us at 928-445-2000 or 1-800-266-7534, or stop by the Visitor Information Center located at 117 W. Goodwin Street, Prescott, AZ  86303.