When you decided to move here, you evaluated the weather, geographic distances to family or work, real estate pricing, taxes, schools, recreational amenities, health infrastructure, crime rates, job opportunities or things to keep you busy if you are retired.
But there was something else that drew you here and made you fall in love with the Lowcountry. It is the “local” feeling — the many intangibles that combined create a sense of place; the things that make us unique and give us a distinct flavor that makes living or visiting here a different experience than let’s say Melbourne, Florida.
But what exactly does local mean?
On the one hand it is the culture, the colors, the flavors, the natural environment and architecture that makes a place feel a certain way. On the other hand it is a sense of community, the social fabric, the tone with which we interact on a daily basis, the trust – or lack thereof, the fears and hopes, the help we can count on etc.
Imagine a world where you had no local choices. Everything is controlled by big corporations and national chains. Our dependency for job opportunities or social advancement would be in the hands of only a few decision makers which put corporate gains before the general public’s interest. It would indeed be a very deprived world.
As humans we depend on group interaction, our survival depends on working together and combining different skill sets; it is deeply ingrained in our DNA.
Therefore, local matters greatly. Especially in a world that at times seems to be out of order and challenges our intellect and emotions with things we can’t control. Returning to “Local” on the other hand can give us a sense of security, a sense of control. We only get a chance to vote for a Presidential election every 4 years but we can make a great difference in our local community every day.
We are fortunate in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton that we still have many locally owned businesses, craftsmen and artists that all contribute greatly to make our communities unique, livable and enjoyable. But we can’t take it for granted, and therefore we should be more conscious and make a greater effort of supporting locally owned businesses. These professionals and entrepreneurs pay taxes here, give back to the community, create well paying jobs, teach the next generation, coach little league teams, volunteer and contribute in a hundred different ways.
A healthy and sustainable community depends on diversity and diversity depends on us going the extra mile to spend our hard earned money at a locally owned business, buy art from local artists, listen to local music, go for dinner at a local restaurant, buy our batteries at a local hardware store, contract with the local Internet provider and the list goes on and on.
The statistics speak for themselves. If Beaufort County residents would shift $20 of their weekly spending to favor locally owned businesses, the economic impact would be $60 million a year. It’s your turn to make a move.