Speaker coming to Columbus Nov. 4 urges consumers to shop with local merchants

For just 50 bucks a month, you can help save the local economy.

That’s the message from Cinda Baxter, founder of “The 3/50 Project,” which urges consumers to pick three locally owned businesses and spend at least $50 a month at them -- $50 at all three, that is, not $50 at each.

“If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue,” says Baxter’s Web site, www.the350project.net, meaning $42.6 billion nationwide.

“For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures,” Baxter’s site says. “If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online, and nothing comes home.”

Folks from LaGrange, Opelika and Auburn will be coming to Columbus next week to hear Baxter speak 7:30-9 a.m. at a Nov. 4 breakfast buffet sponsored by MidTown Inc., Uptown Columbus and the downtown Business Improvement District. The event will be in the Columbus Trade Center’s Foundry Room.

“She has spoken at chambers of commerce and all sorts of business associations across the country, and she got stellar reviews,” said MidTown Inc. Executive Director Teresa Tomlinson. “They said she really is very motivational in encouraging people to shop local, and also in giving local businesses these really great ideas in how they can joint-market and encourage people to come into their stores by showing how much they’re committed to the community.”

Local shops often are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing against big-volume national chains, Tomlinson said. Sometimes local governments contribute to that disadvantage by offering the big stores incentives to move to town – something local merchants don’t get.

“So not only do the national stores create an economic vacuum, because they take a lot of the business away, but a lot of times they’ve been greatly subsidized, and the local businesses have not,” she said. “And so, many cities across the country actually are making concerted efforts to heavily market their locally owned businesses because it does keep so much more money here in the community.”

Anyone interested in hearing Baxter’s talk may make a reservation by mailing a check to MidTown Inc. at 1236 Wildwood Ave., Columbus, Ga., 31906, or with credit card going to www.midtowncolumbusga.org and clicking on “Invest in MidTown.” Seats are $10 each or $75 for a table of eight.

For more information call 706-494-1663.