Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

September 7, 2010

Help a neighbor, help state: Buy local

Money stays in community

When driving down U.S. 31, you see many stickers on the cars passing by. These stickers often tell fellow drivers of many things: an individual's political views, whether or not his or her kid is on the honor roll, and the ones I see the most, Buy Locally.

The buying locally statement really rings true to me. When given the opportunity to support my neighbor, I always jump on the bandwagon. Whether it is going to the local farmers market or using local stores instead of the larger chain stores, I always try to support our area. Even though it may cost a little more to purchase something from either a local farmer or a smaller local store, I know that it benefits the community and strengthens the surrounding areas.

Everyone knows that when buying locally, money spent can stay in the community. The more people who buy locally, the more money that circulates throughout the area, which in turn helps the region flourish. However, when money is spent at bigger box stores and chain stores, money seeps out of the community and takes many opportunities for local economic growth with it.

When I shop at the corner drugstore instead of the chain store down the street, it helps support a local family or even a fellow classmate.

Buying locally helps keep the uniqueness about a certain region and keeps the area from becoming "just another town" overrun by franchises and fast-food places.

As our nation pulls through this recession, slowly but surely, many towns and cities are struggling to survive. This should encourage more people to buy locally to strengthen their community in a "fighting back against the recession" kind of way. When we are able to buy more locally, the money spent can help support a neighboring family. This helps to redistribute our wealth and help us grow as an economically stable area.

I know I have been preaching about how buying locally can support our towns, communities and even the great region where we live; however, if these same principles could be adopted to help our nation, people would, when given the opportunity, want to help, right? The answer might come as a shock, but for many years now, people have been doing the opposite.

Being from Michigan and growing up here, I have a certain pride in where I am from. Yeah, it is nice to drive through the other states for a vacation and to see the sights, but I would give all that up to spend a day in Detroit looking at a car museum. In my opinion, nothing gets more American than the good old automobile.

This love for cars, my state and, most of all, my country has been a part of me my whole life. My father has spent the last 24 years working directly with the auto industry, so I have been brought up to appreciate more than how a car looks at first glance; I know to appreciate the time and hard work spent while putting it together.

With the ups and downs our economy has taken the past couple of years, the auto industry profoundly has been affected. For the Big Three — Chrysler, Ford and General Motors — that call Michigan home, I question what I personally can do to help out my fellow Michiganders. I figure that I need to do my part and buy locally. I will stay loyal to the companies that make Michigan what it is. When driving through our area I tend to feel betrayed by my neighbors when I see a foreign car driving next to me. Yes, the foreign-car companies claim that their cars are made in the United States, but the majority of money generated from the sale of a foreign car often is sent overseas, back to the country from which it came.

Much like how buying local greatly can improve the strength of a struggling community, buying American also can save our nation. We need to stand up as neighbors, community members, Michiganders and, most of all, citizens of the United States of America and start "buying locally" to bring ourselves out of recession and back to economic stability.

Gabe Leaf is a senior at Elk Rapids High School.

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