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"Buy Into It" York County

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The York County Regional Chamber of Commerce is embracing the buy-local movement that is sweeping the country, with its “Buy Into It” program.

The “20 on the 20th” campaign encourages York County consumers to bypass Charlotte and spend at least $20 locally on the 20th of each month. Organizers estimate that if every person in York County participates, the local economy would see a $2 million impact.

Chamber executives say that for every $100 spent here, $45 is reinvested locally by business owners who pay taxes for schools and fire and police protection, donate to local charities and pay employees.

Elsewhere, advocates say buying local appeals to people who like to speak through their purchases, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). A Civics Economics study in Grand Rapids, Mich. several years ago, shows that a shift of just 10 percent of shoppers’ spending from chains to locally-owned businesses could create nearly $140 million in new economic activity and 1,600 new jobs for the area.

This dynamic plays out at credit unions and national banks, too, says Steve Rick, senior economist for CUNA in Madison, Wis. “When Bank of America makes a profit, that money goes to New York City,” he says. “But your credit union’s earnings get reinvested into new branches and member services. That money stays in your community. And it comes back to you in better fees and higher interest rates on deposits. You’re bettering the community and also yourself.”

Several years ago, the York County Regional Chamber’s Leadership York County (LYCO) group adopted “Buy Into It” as its project for the year. The 26 participants raised $4,700 for the project, developed education initiatives and visited local businesses to thank them and raise awareness.

“Educating the community is the key,” said Steve Parker of the Rock Hill Police Department and LYCO co-chair. “If we understand how buying locally will directly impact us, we’re more likely to do it on purpose.”

Residents can follow @BuyLocalYC and @ycrchamber on Twitter, or “like” the Facebook pages for the Regional Chamber and the “Buy Into It” campaign for information on its upcoming Holiday Hunt.

© 2012 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice.