Let's Create a County Database of Local Independent Businesses

Orange County commissioner candidate and local business owner Mark Marcoplos is proposing that the Orange County Economic Development Office create, maintain, and promote a database of the county’s local, independent businesses. Said Marcoplos: “Our local, independent businesses are the backbone of our economy. They provide the majority of business jobs while accounting for the biggest share of retail sales in the county. Additionally they help to bind our communities together. The government of Orange County should actively promote and support these businesses. To that end, we need a comprehensive database of local, independent businesses detailing the goods and services that each one provides.”

Marcoplos envisions a searchable database that residents could use to find providers of products and services in our local business community. With a strong, ongoing promotional effort, county residents could more easily find local businesses to meet their needs.

Dann Carnes, the owner of Fireplace Editions (located north of Chapel Hill), said, "The database proposed by Mark Marcoplos and its promotion among our citizenry is the kind of initiative that can make real progress possible because it gets people involved in their community in ways they can make a difference. There are a host of reasons why some do not support local businesses, but leadership such as Mark's proposal represents can only help strengthen local economic recovery efforts."

There would be other potential uses for this tool. Said Marcoplos, “Local businesses could be offered the option to list waste products that they generate and waste products that they could use. For example, one business may generate shredded paper and another business may need packing materials. This information in the database could save them money and keep useable material out of the waste stream. Additionally, this information could help the county communicate with categories of businesses on specific issues that may affect them. And I’m sure that more uses for this information would come to mind.”

Mark Hockney, owner of Tiny Farm (located northeast of Hillsborough) said: "I believe Mark’s proposal for a database of local independent businesses has real value for our farm. We often need specific services or materials in a timely manner, and always prefer to support local companies. We have never had a comprehensive source of this information. Good job Mark. Let's make investment in our community a priority."

Locally owned businesses retain their profits in the community and are more likely to purchase business inputs and professional services from other community businesses. Therefore fewer dollars leak out of the local economy.

Local business will also tend to support local causes with in-kind and monetary donations. National businesses tend to make charitable donations to national organizations and in the communities surrounding their headquarters.

(From Maine Center for Economic Policy report from Dec. 2011, https://bealocalist.org/sites/default/files/MECEP_Report_-_Buying_Local.pdf)

$100 spent at a locally owned business generates an additional $60 in local impact.

$100 spent at a national chain store generates an additional $33 in local impact.

This is a 76% greater return to the local economy by local business activity.




I've shared this proposal with a lot of local business people and organizations. It has been universally welcomed.

Durham has joined the American Independent Business Alliance and created their own Sustain A Bull Alliance using the resources of the AIBA. Sustain A Bull works in conjunction with the Durham Chamber.http://www.sustainabull.net/http://www.amiba.net/Over the holidays they had a special Sustain A Bull weekend (free cup of coffee/cocoa from Cocoa Cinnamon!), and they have periodic specials throughout the year to bring attention to their members. They also have a business directory with map. Implementing Mark's idea doesn't have to be difficult--the tools and resources are available to make this happen relatively quickly. 


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