Training & Development Corporation  [Printer-friendly version]
March 21, 2006


By Michael Shuman, author of The Small-Mart Revolution (2006)

Twenty-seven Items for Consumers

Best Places to Localize Spending (and often save money)

* All items can be at least cost-neutral with careful shopping, but
items with an asterisk actually can produce significant household

(1) Localize Your Home* -- Rent from a local landlord, take a mortgage
from a local bank, or own your home.

(2) Live in Local Style -- Use local building materials for your
house, with local architectural designs. Furnish with locally
fabricated tables, chairs, beds, and couches.

(3) Minimize Automobiles* -- Ride your vehicle less by walking,
biking, carpooling, living in "walkable communities," and using mass

(4) Fuel Up Locally -- Make your next car very fuel efficient. Use
local biodiesel and ethanol, as they become available.

(5) Local Car Services -- Find a good local mechanic whom you trust
and who charges reasonably. Use the local car wash, local auto-parts
store, and local insurer.

(6) Eat Out Locally -- Avoid chain restaurants, especially fast- food
joints that addict children to high-fat, high-salt food.

(7) Buy Fresh -- Link up with local farmers and hydroponics operators
for fruits, vegetables, and meats through farmers markets, co-ops,
direct delivery services, and community-supported agriculture (CSA)
programs. Rediscover local bakers, butchers, cheese makers, chefs, and

(8) Support Local Retailers -- Dump Safeway, Albertson, Wal-Mart, and
even Wild Oats for local grocers. Be loyal to competitive local
pharmacies, bookstores, hardware stores, coffee roasters, photocopy
centers, and so forth.

(9) Play Local -- Minimize your passion for high-end electronics and
television. Spend more time at local sports events, health clubs,
playgrounds, pools, parks, games, films, plays, puppet shows, dancing,
music, and debate leagues. If you must gamble, favor local lotteries,
casinos, and horse tracks.

(10) Heal Local -- Use local doctors, dentists, therapists,
acupuncturists, and nursing homes.

(11) Live Healthy* -- Emphasize local nutrition, exercise, emotional
balance, and spiritual nurturing, all of which minimize the need for
nonlocal pharmaceuticals.

(12) Sign A Living Will* -- Have the hard conversation with your
family about end-of-life decisions to save them from expensive,
nonlocal, life-support systems.

(13) Minimize Household Energy Use* -- Add insulation, double pane the
windows, buy compact florescent lights, replace the inefficient
furnace and appliances, and do the 101 well-known items that cut
purchases of nonlocal electricity, oil, and natural gas. Better still,
put photovoltaics or a wind-electric generator on your roof and sell
your electricity back to the utility.

(14) Give Local -- Target charitable giving at local causes and

(15) Axe Bad Habits* -- Minimize consumption of booze (except local
microbrews and wines), cigarettes, and naughty Internet sites, all of
which are hard to localize.

(16) Educate Locally -- Support local public schools. If they are
beyond repair, send your kids to local private schools.

(17) Read Locally -- Buy books from local authors or local publishers,
sold at local bookstores. Advertise in the local papers. Become a
regular at the local library.

(18) Honor Junk* -- Pare down your piles of "stuff" by repairing,
reusing, and refurbishing. Substitute hand-me-down clothing,
especially for young kids who don't care about Nordy's. Give more
gifts from the heart and fewer gift certificates to Best Buy.

(19) Rent More* -- Rent or lease more big ticket items, like Zip cars.
Create neighborhood tool sheds for shared lawnmowers or snow blowers.

(20) Recycle More -- Send your paper, glass, and plastic to the local
recycler not only because it's good for the environment but also
because it gives local industries affordable local inputs.

Tools to Assist Local Purchasing

(1) Directories of Local Business -- Create helpful lists for your
neighbors in print, online, in newspaper ads, and on coffee cups.

(2) Directories of Local Products -- Highlight, again in print or
online, the many locally made goods or locally provided services that
are available.

(3) Local Labels -- Develop a insignia of local ownership, so that you
know if a store is locally owned or if a product is locally made.

(4) Buy Local Days -- Or weeks, months, or seasons, all of which can
provide the basis for a buy-local campaign.

(5) Local Currency -- Mobilize your community the print its own
"money" that can only be used by local businesses and consumers.

(6) LETS -- Create computerized trading systems, which are especially
popular in Europe, that encourage locals to trade with one another
without touching mainstream money.

(7) Time Dollars -- Set up a computerized system for tracking
volunteer hours as a way of legitimizing and expanding such
contributions for the community.

Fourteen Items for Investors -

(1) Bank Local -- Favor local financial institutions like credit
unions, small thrifts, and small commercial banks, and especially make
sure your biggest loans -- for your home, car, and college -- come
from them.

(2) Multiply Local Banks -- If you can't find a good local bank, help
start one; credit unions are the easiest and cheapest.

(3) Localize Mainstream Banks -- Use the Community Reinvestment Act to
evaluate how well nonlocal banks are recirculating your savings
locally and to pressure them to improve their performance.

(4) Cut Up Credit Cards -- Remember that nearly all credit card
processing is nonlocal and wastes precious local money on nonlocal
high-interest payments.

(5) Expand Small Business Loan Funds -- Mobilize local banks,
philanthropists, foundations, and government agencies to expand the
assets of revolving loan funds for small business.

(6) Create Micro Funds -- If your community lacks small business
funds, set up one in partnership with your bank. Several dozen
depositors can pony up money, create a lending pool, and then team up
with the bank to administer the loans to whomever you think is

(7) Invest Local -- Invest more of your savings in local business as a
cooperative member, a program-related investor in a nonprofit, a
limited partner, or a shareholder.

(8) Local Venture and Hedge Funds -- If you're a securities industry
professional, think about creating local investment funds that
specialize in high-performing local businesses.

(9) Technical Assistance for Small Stock Companies -- Create a company
that helps small businesses issue local stock (that is, tradable only
intrastate) on the cheap, and then to handle the ongoing reporting and
due-diligence requirements.

(10) Local Underwriters -- Set up a local investment company that
helps successful local firms create local stock issues, and that then
sells the securities intrastate for a fee.

(11) Local Stock Markets -- Put together an electronic trading
platform to help local business investors find and trade with one

(12) Local Mutual Funds -- Once a critical mass of local securities
are issued, assemble diversified funds of these securities and make
them available to local retirement-plan investors.

(13) Local Investment Advisers -- Set up a firm that specializes in
helping investors evaluate the performance of local business.

(14) Pension Fund Advocacy -- Pressure your pension fund, whether
private or public, to invest in local real estate, local business,
local venture and hedge funds, and local mutual funds.

Twelve Items for Entrepreneurs-

(1) Local Niche -- Make local ownership a key part of marketing your
business to consumers and to investors.

(2) Go Green -- Make your business an outstanding local environmental
citizen by using local renewable resources and reusing nonrenewable
resources (through recycling and reuse), and be sure to brag to your
customers about it.

(3) BALLE Chapter -- Create a local business alliance so that you're
not alone. Use the alliance to promote local purchasing, fight chains,
solve problems, secure credit, and learn new skills.

(4) Producers Cooperatives -- Join existing producers cooperatives or
other kinds of industry-specific affinity groups that collectively
purchase, advertise, and lobby for local members. Or start a new one.

(5) Bazaars -- Help set up and participate in local business mini-
malls, whether they are weekend farmers' markets or dedicated shopping

(6) Direct Delivery -- Create or join a direct delivery service
affiliated exclusively or primarily with local businesses.

(7) Flexible Manufacturing -- Form a network of local businesses that
is ready and willing to seize manufacturing opportunities as they

(8) Buyers' Cards -- Team up with other local businesses to create
instruments that promote local purchasing, such as local credit cards,
debit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards.

(9) B2B Marketplace -- Set up a business that links local businesses
to one another and takes a commission on each local "input"

(10) B2G Midwife -- Create a business that aggregates small businesses
into compelling bids for government contracts and handles the mountain
of paperwork in exchange for a fee.

(11) Super-Incubators -- Take existing small-business incubators (or
start a new one) and rededicate them exclusively to local business.
Restructure them to operate on a self-financing, venture-capital

(12) TINA Collaboration -- Break bread with nonlocal businesses to
learn and work together (at least wherever it does not weaken the
local business community).

Thirty-four Items for Policymakers -

Daily Mantra

Remove all public support, including anything that requires city staff
time and energy, from nonlocal business and refocus it instead, laser-
like, on local business.

Local Studies

(1) Indicators -- Prepare quantifiable measures of the community's
quality of life (economic, environmental, social, and political) that
hold your economic development policies accountable. Conduct public
hearings in which residents decide which indicators are most relevant,
then put together an annual report on the best ones, distribute it
widely, and place it on a website.

(2) Assets Analysis -- Gather data on assets in the region, especially
unused or underused economic inputs like unemployed labor, abandoned
lots and buildings, and idle machinery, all to clarify what's
available for new or expanded small business.

(3) Imports Analysis -Prepare an annual measure of imports and
dependencies, especially in basic goods and services, to underscore
where local consumer demands already exist for new locally owned

(4) Subsidy Inventory -- Perform a full evaluation of all subsidies
given in the last ten years to business (grants, loans, guarantees,
tax abatements, capital improvements, TIFs, or bond issues), and
catalogue which, if any, went to local businesses.

(5) State of the Region Report -- Prepare an annual booklet with the
latest assessments of indicators, assets, and imports, as well as
other inventories noted below, all to strategically identify business
opportunities with the greatest benefit for the community.

(6) Community Reinvestment Report -- Study which local depository
institutions -- and, if any exist, which investment institutions --
are reinvesting more than 90 percent of their savings/investments

(7) Pension Fund Analysis -- Identify which pension funds, whether
public or private, specialized or mutual, might be capable of
reinvesting locally.

(8) Good Community-keeping Seals -- Evaluate the performance of all
businesses in the region and award a special seal to any firm that is
not only locally owned but also a good performer with workers,
consumers, and the environment.

Local Training

(1) Entrepreneurship Programs -- Revitalize entrepreneurship programs
in public schools, community colleges, and local universities to
emphasize local and small business. Allocate municipal funds to help
other institutions like churches, civic groups, and small business
associations set up entrepreneurship study groups.

(2) Mentorship Programs -- Link established businesspeople (especially
retirees with extra time) with young and aspiring entrepreneurs.

(3) Place-based Scholarships -- To retain the best and brightest,
create a scholarship fund that extends no-interest loans to college-
bound kids. (If they return to and settle in the community after
graduation, they enjoy no- or low-interest provisions; otherwise,
interest rates kick up to market levels.)

(4) Incubators -- Limit public support to incubators that house only
locally owned businesses, and link them to local entrepreneurship
programs and business mentors.

Local Purchasing

(1) The Homegrown Directory -- Prepare a directory of local businesses
organized by product or business type that could help residents buy
local. This could then be distributed in hard copies and over the
Internet to consumers.

(2) Regional Directory -- Combine your homegrown directory with
neighboring towns around a regional theme.

(3) Selective Public Contracting -- Give a 5 to 10 percent% bidding
advantage to local businesses. Better still, demand that all bidders
estimate anticipated multiplier benefits.

(4) Small Business Bidding Assistance -- Set up an office that helps
local business compete more effectively for public contracts.

(5) Broker B2B Deals -- Consider replicating the model of the Oregon
Marketplace, which in the 1980s and early 1990s helped local
businesses buy cost-effective inputs from local suppliers.

(6) Buy-Local Campaigns -- Support private efforts to create local
credit, debit, loyalty, or gift cards, perhaps by providing them to
public employees.

(7) Time Dollars -- Help coordinate a city-wide Time Dollar program,
and provide tax credits for each Time Dollar earned to promote
volunteerism and to lower public requirements for expenditures on
social services.

(8) Local Currency -- Support or create a local scrip, since only
businesses and service providers committed to respending locally will
be interested in accepting the currency. Pay bonuses or raises to
public employees in the scrip, and accept scrip for partial payment of
taxes, both of which Philadelphia did during the Great Depression.

Local Investing

(1) Bank Local -- Make sure the city uses a local bank or credit union
to conduct business and handle payroll.

(2) Invest Local -- Begin moving municipal investment, including
surplus revenues and pension funds, into local business either
directly or indirectly through local-business venture, hedge, or
mutual funds.

(3) Bond Finance -- Limit the use of industrial revenue bonds to
projects involving locally owned business.

(4) Subsidies -- Remove as many business subsidies as possible, and
sunset the rest. Subject those remaining to a fair bidding process
open to local business. Never pay subsidies, even tax abatements,
before the promises of jobs and other benefits are fulfilled.

Local Public Policy

(1) Smart Growth -- Revamp zoning to permit most kinds of uses in most
places, especially home-based businesses. More fully use developed
land and buildings before grinding up green space or farms.

(2) Smart Zoning -- Use local zoning powers to prevent gigantic chain-
store clusters that can destroy existing small business (though beware
the legal and economic ramifications of total bans on outside

(3) Smart Schools -- Refurbish older, smaller school buildings instead
of building newer, bigger ones. Make it easy and safe for children to
walk or bicycle to school.

(4) Smart Taxes -- Phase out all taxes on business, income, sales, and
property, and phase in revenue-neutral taxes on energy, nonrenewable
resources, pollution, and nuisances. If more revenue is ever needed,
use Henry George property taxes (on land, not on improvements) to spur

(5) Smart Wages -- Create[Propose?] a living wage ordinance to
eliminate most working poverty in the community. Use savings in local
welfare programs to ease the transition for burdened small business.
Celebrate, don't lament, , how these scare away chain stores.

(6) Smart Politics -- Invest in serious, professional lobbyists to
press for reforms of various national laws concerning subsidies,
corporations, banking, and trade that are currently biased against
local business.

Five Items For Community Builders -

(1) Education -- Help key members of the community (including
businesspeople, politicians, civil servants, civic activists, and
academics) understand the virtues of the Small-Mart Revolution.

(2) Local First -- Undertake grassroots education about which
businesses are local and how best to support them with local planning,
training, purchasing, investing, and public policy.

(3) Identify Leaks -- Identify economic leaks that suggest
opportunities for new or expanded local businesses. Use this, along
with an analysis of local assets, to assess specific businesses most
promising for the community's future.

(4) Vision -- Organize key stakeholders to study the leakage analysis
and craft a unified, coherent vision of the community's economic

(5) Implementation -- Develop a set of consistent, reinforcing Small-
Mart programs and policies that help the community realize its vision.

Eight Items for Promoting the Local Globally -

(1) Revamp Trade Agreements -- Lobby national and global decision
makers to reform, revamp, and rethink current global trade agreements
so that they are community friendly.

(2) Intermunicipal Agreements -- Link up with Small-Mart cities
worldwide and formulate agreements on key issues ignored (or
squelched) by the trade agreements regarding environmental protection,
corporate responsibility, worker rights, human rights, and community

(3) Global Technical Assistance -- Help poorer communities become more
self-reliant by providing them, without charge, your best Small- Mart
technology, training, and policy ideas.

(4) Global Boycotts -- Work in concert with sympathetic communities
worldwide to boycott countries and global corporations who oppose the
Small-Mart Revolution.

(5) Global Investment Funds -- Set up global "funds of funds" that can
provide geographic diversification of local business investment funds.

(6) Global Banks -- Finance a Small-Mart World Bank that provides
targeted loans to local business development in poor communities.

(7) Global Currency Exchanges -- Create a Small-Mart International
Monetary Fund by facilitating exchanges of local currencies.

(8) Global Business Networks -- Weave global networks of related
businesses together so that they can support one another against
multinational enterprises. Like U.S. producers cooperatives, these
networks could facilitate bulk purchases, mutual credit, large-scale
marketing, and technical assistance.