Commentary: How buying local can pay big dividends for Michigan

What would happen if every Michigan resident shifted one out of every 10 retail purchases to a Michigan-based company?

Combined, Michigan residents spend $30 billion on retail purchases, if 10 percent of those dollars stayed in Michigan, it would add an estimated $3 billion into our economy.

Michigan Retailers Association partnered with Public Sector Consultants for our annual Buy Nearby analysis to quantify what a simple change in spending could do for our state. We know that each dollar invested in local Michigan retailers is an investment in Michigan. But we wanted to dig deeper to understand both the direct and indirect impact it would have on our state.

Individually, this shift looks like shopping at a few stores in your downtown, rather than ordering everything from an out-of-state retailer. However, $3 billion in additional revenue would trigger staggering results.

By the numbers:

  • 16,000 new jobs in Michigan, boosting labor income (salary and benefits) by about $660 million.
  • $1.2 billion in value added to the state’s economy.
  • $2.2 billion in gross economic output.

In short: Jobs and opportunity to keep Michigan moving forward.

PSC found the largest employment gains would accrue in retail industries — with the greatest benefits occurring in the non-store, general merchandise, clothing, and electronic retail sectors.

Everyone had a first job, a place that helped develop work ethic and an understanding of how the world works. Many of these 16,000 new jobs are potential first jobs, ideal for gaining experience and developing the next generation of business and community leaders.

Beyond the immediate economic impact to retail business, the real estate, owner-occupied dwellings, warehousing and storage, management of companies and enterprises, and hospital sectors would also experience an increase in prosperity.

As Michigan’s small businesses recover from the pandemic, face inflation head on, and continue to evolve their businesses, the least any of us can do is buy local.

In June, 50 percent of Michigan Retailers Association members reported through our monthly Retail Index that their sales were down month-over-month. The impact of spending, just a little more on in-state goods each year, is significant for retailers and our state’s future prosperity.

These are the hard numbers that show what buying local would do for our economy. The ripples into the economy of these numbers are significant, and we can grow them into waves if we chose to Buy Nearby.

William Hallan is president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association and Michigan Retailers Services and Retailers Insurance Co.

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