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February 24, 2011

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Let’s build stronger local economies by shifting our spending

Last week I had the privilege of launching our Ten Percent Shift campaign in Langford. More than 400 people turned out to the launch, and I was extremely pleased with the response.

I’ve been talking about the ideas behind this campaign for some time. It’s the logical extension of the “Local First” campaign that included my tour of more than 30 BC communities over the past couple of years. During that tour, I made a point of meeting with a wide range of interest groups and individuals, ranging from Chambers of Commerce, members of CUPE and other unions, and local elected officials, among others. Rarely do groups like this agree on the weather, never mind how to make our communities stronger.

But one area that seems to have enthusiastic support from all interest groups and advocates is the importance of a dynamic and sustainable local economy that moves beyond the traditional “boom and bust” cycles especially prevalent in resource-dependent communities.

In addition to spending a lot of time on that tour listening to ideas, I also talked a lot about my belief that the long-term solution lies with the actions of individual citizens. We all have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for, and there is a simple, doable action we can all take. And that’s to contribute more to our local economies by shifting just ten percent of our existing household spending to locally made goods and services from locally owned businesses.

Studies in other jurisdictions show that a dollar spent in a locally owned business creates more spinoffs and economic benefits than a dollar spent in a chain store that doesn’t reinvest its profits in the community. Check out our campaign website at tenpercentshift.ca for more information on the research available elsewhere.

So I’m urging everyone to go to www.tenpercentshift.ca to take the Ten Percent Shift pledge, and start shifting today. We’re not asking anyone to spend more money, simply shift ten percent of your household spending to local first. Encourage your family, friends and neighbours to join with you, and share your success stories and favourite local shops and products on our Facebook page. And let us know if you’re having trouble finding local products in your community; hopefully, as the campaign grows, other shifters in your area will be able to point you towards hidden finds.

I’ll be talking a lot more about the Shift over the coming months. This is an important campaign for us, for after all, every single CUPE member is a member of their community first. By taking a leadership role in our communities all over the province, we can help build vibrant and sustainable local economies, and we will all benefit from that.

So if you haven’t already, please visit tenpercentshift.ca and take the Pledge today. We all work every day to make our communities stronger; with this campaign we can take one more step on that road.

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