Spearheaded by the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, Buy Bartow--Work Bartow commenced earlier this year as Joe Frank Harris Jr. took the reins as president and CEO.
Since that time, an objective was set and a public marker placed for tracking success. Through an increase of local spending and a conscious effort to hire locally, the chamber is working steadily toward decreasing county unemployment by 1 percent with the addition of 500 new hires.
"We're really nearing the initial goal of increasing employment by 1 percent or [adding] 500 [jobs]. We're all over the top of it and about to get ready to celebrate and put another thermometer in the ground," Harris said. "All the business owners are so interested in educating the 100,000 people that live here on the importance of a dollar spent in Bartow County. You spend a dollar here and it turns over time after time again.
"If we could just get people to understand that the jobs of their neighbors and the quality of our life here depends on whether we're going to spend that $1,094,000,000 here or are we going to take it to Town Center. ... Imagine the impact on the sales tax. It makes our taxes less because we're getting people in here and we're driving that economic engine."
Landy Shropshire, owner of Athlete's Locker, has operated his independent sporting goods store in Cartersville for 23 years. For him, the importance of shopping locally is evident.
"In my opinion, spending locally creates an immediate impact on the local economy. It makes us feel like we're investing in ourselves. I don't think we could conjure up a better way of stimulating our economy other than spending locally," Shropshire said. "We're very appreciative for our local customers, we are very grateful for our customers over the years. Cartersville has been good to us. I'm thankful every day that people trust us to recommend us and come to our business."
Harris noted that each dollar spent at a locally owned retailer can turn over as much as 12 times within the community. Talking to business owners, Harris said he has heard of excitement and change being ushered in on the tails of Buy Bartow.
"It drives right to the heart of what a community is all about," Harris said. "If you go to Town Center, that money is going to turn around in Cobb County. ... And it's not to say that we don't all make trips down there. But if we could just get folks to think of Bartow first and then give our local retailers a chance."
In coordination with the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and the local business community, The Daily Tribune News has included in today's issue a Buy Bartow section. See today's C-section for advertisements from local businesses.
Shropshire has seen the impact of local spending for more than two decades. Dealing with repeat customers, he contends the basics to building a business is "one customer at a time," treating people right and having what they want.
"The loyalty here is incredible. People seem to see the importance of spending locally and we've lasted 23 years because people have spent locally," Shropshire said. "It seems like it has become even more of an importance in people spending locally now. I think the slower economy has maybe drawn us back to our basic values and we seem to be supporting our local businesses."