How to Create Local Economic Impact

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Rep. Maurice Hinchey has made a startling statement — that the concentration of wealth in the U.S. is the same today as it was in the 1920’s with the highest concentration of dollars in the hands of the wealthiest few. It seems that most of those wealthy hands don’t live in the Wallkill Valley.

We must create our own economic stimulus if we are to weather the current economic climate. One way that we can all do this is by interweaving our businesses and households with other local businesses and farms.  What I mean by this is generating economic impact in our hometowns by keeping our money flowing in the local economy, and passing through local business after local business.
One way we do this in Montgomery is through a band of village businesses called Montgomery Business Association. We work together to bring cultural tourism to our quaint historic village. We also look for ways to connect our businesses and lower our operating costs.

For example, I’m the director of the nonprofit Wallkill River School. We are working with Ms. Claire’s Musical Cupboard on summer programs for children. We will share the cost of a locally-printed brochure which advertises both businesses.
The way this act generates local economic impact is that $100 comes in to Ms. Claire’s Musical Cupboard from a parent enrolling their child. Part of that $100 pays the teacher who lives locally, part goes to pay rent to a local landlord, and toward advertising that helps benefit Wallkill River School by lowering our advertising costs as well. Net result, several local businesses have benefitted by one parent buying local.

Looking at a larger scale, I traced the economic impact of the Wallkill River School on our local community.  Last year, we had 806 adult enrollments in 131 classes, and 174 child enrollments in 30 classes bringing in a gross of $77,156. Additionally, we offered a comprehensive free teen art class program offering 20 classes to 194 local teen enrollments, and a free Senior’s class serving  780 drop-ins per year almost equaling attendance in our paying classes.

Of the $77,156 brought in by art classes,  half was paid out to the local artists who taught the classes. The other $38,500 goes toward paying staff salaries; both employees live in the community and pay local property taxes.  And part went to paying utility bills, insurance (through a local broker) and refreshment costs.  The gallery part of our business pays the rent which goes to our local landlord and patron, Ed Devitt.
We created economic impact in our home community by partnering with James Douglas Gallery for framing, and sending him thousands of dollars of framing business. We also generate business for a local art supply store, Newburgh Art Supply. We partnered with several local farms including joining the Share of the Harvest Program at Sycamore Farms to provide local foods picnic lunch for our summer outdoor painting class and for still life objects, Hoeffner’s Farm for seasonal decorations like cut flowers, pine drapes and wreaths, mums, etc.

Another way we found to generate economic impact is to partner with several local restaurants including Wildfire Grill, Ward’s Bridge Inn, and Iron Café to provide lunches for our classes generating more than $3,000 in lunch revenues for these businesses. All together, our economic impact on this community was to pay out more than $80,000 to other local businesses and residents, creating a multiplier effect as they, in turn, support other local businesses and pay local taxes.
I hope our model of doing business gives you some ideas of ways that your business and family can also stimulate the local economy.  This is common sense stimulus, which, to me, makes more sense then handing over a massive federal debt to our grandchildren.


2 Responses to “How to Create Local Economic Impact”

  1. fromage Says:

    Great article and I concur we must support our local businesses and reduce the number of “box” stores that are killing our local small businesses. Look at Monroe since the Walmart, Home Depot, etc. arrived. It is a ghost town.

    The County Government is one that shows how not to do this. Many of the firms that do business with the county are from out of state. So we tax our residents but send our money out of Orange County. What a business model!

    No wonder people cannot live in our state and no wonder the personal income for Orange County has gone down $2 billion in 2008, yes I meant billion. It went from $13 billion in 2007 to $11 billion in 2008 according to the U.S. Census data.

    I cannot wait until I can see the 2009 numbers.

  2. Catskill Round-up 2/1/2010 « Zinc Plate Press Blog Says:

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