By Jeff Labine The Stettler Independent
When searching for holiday gifts, the executive director of the Stettler Regional Board of Trade is encouraging residents to shop locally.
The reason, executive director Stacey Benjamin argues, is because local businesses give back to the community they are in.
“Shopping local is something that every local citizen needs to consider,” she said. “It is the local businesses that are supporting the community and making sure everything is running. Local businesses are also supporting not-for-profit organizations and all of the other events running in town as well.”
Benjamin explained if a local shop doesn’t have what someone is looking for, the store can usually order it in for them. She said small businesses in towns provide one-on-one support.
Shopping local can be tough especially when online giants like Amazon offer major deals on a number of products. Recently, Amazon sent out a release stating half of the items sold online are from small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Benjamin praised Amazon for recognizing the appeal of handmade products but said the problem is that although those businesses are small, they aren’t local.
“Lots of times they aren’t from the community and won’t give back to the community either,” she said. “It is these communities that are supporting these organizations and being able to give money in return, it is like a complete cycle.”
She added another big benefit for local businesses is job creation.
According to a 2014 report by the Alberta government, small businesses make up 95 per cent of all businesses across the province but employ roughly 35 per cent. According to the report, there’s nearly 160,000 small businesses in Alberta compared to approximately 7,500 medium and large scaled businesses.
The report also argues small businesses play a key role in propelling the economy forward and supporting large companies. For example, larger companies often subcontract smaller businesses to provide services in natural resource development.