Shopping local helps the whole community

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By Cindy Simpson

Shopping in Roane County doesn’t just save gas money traveling to Knoxville. It also keeps sales tax revenue and potential jobs here.

“We’ve got what we call a leakage report. This shows all the different retail and trade sectors here. They (companies) estimate I guess from past performance,” said Roane Alliance President and CEO Leslie Henderson.

Those reports give officials an estimate of just how much is going outside the county.

“Take all those green numbers in the retail gap, add them up, our numbers … All those numbers add up to almost $250 million dollars. (That is) how many retail dollars are expected to be spent outside Roane County this year,” Henderson said.

For example, $32 million is estimated to be spent outside of Roane County on cars.

“If we can just convince even one or two people to buy their cars here in Roane County,” Henderson said.

That means big bucks for Roane County.

Henderson said estimates could be as much as $6 million in local option sales tax being lost, and half of that could be going to the school system.

“Nothing against our neighbors, but why are we supporting our neighboring counties’ school systems?” Henderson said.

Henderson said red numbers on the leakage report show where the county is doing better on meeting supply versus demand.

“We are capturing a lot of the travel dollars off the interstate. We love it when people come spend money and help our economy and pay taxes,” Henderson said.

Henderson said years ago they used to get leakage reports from TVA, and it can be a recruiting tool when there is a demand that isn’t being met in the county.

“You remember when we recruited Lowes. That was part of that. We showed them a report that said there is a demand for building materials that is this much money. To them it is an immense market,” Henderson said.

Showing a desired company there is a need shows the company they will make money in Roane County.

Spending local also keeps more dollars in the county in other ways.

The Chamber estimates that for every $100 spent in locally-owned businesses, $68 returns to the local community in the form of taxes, payrolls and more. That comes from the 3/50 project, which aims to save the brick and mortar businesses.

The project also estimates if $100 is spent at a local national chain $43 is estimated to stay in community.

Trying to get it back is what the Roane Alliance and Chamber of Commerce are trying to do.

Henderson said they’ve been pushing Shop Roane for a long time to support their local Roane County Chamber members, but the effort nationwide to save small community businesses has grown immense.

It has become more than just saving mom-and-pops, but it is a sustainable issue as well with people saving gas and less vehicle emissions by staying closer to home.

“There is this whole farm to table initiative,” added Henderson.

“We are hoping to tie into that sort of groundswell all over the country.”

Long-standing traditions that the Roane County Chamber uses to promote shopping local includes the shopping spree they do annually, which enters shoppers at a Chamber member’s business in a drawing for a shopping spree, this year for $1,000.

The event usually kicks off on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when the Chamber asks locals to spend $50 in a Chamber business.

They are also partnering with the school system to educate staff, teachers and parents of the importance to shop local.

“We created and printed up several banners for them,” Henderson said.

The Chamber also does year-long promotion using social media.