Think Local First
By buying local products and services, governments
and businesses can strengthen the region’s economy
By Bob Page
Think Local First!
The initiative, the brainchild of Debra Rosen, president of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce, is designed to grow jobs, strengthen the local tax base and champion commerce in the San Diego region.
“We want to encourage local purchasing, hiring and contracting of services,” Rosen said.
“When the general public, government agencies, and school districts purchase products, services and hire within the region they have a tremendous impact on the strength and success of the businesses and communities involved,” she said.
The San Diego North Chamber of Commerce’s 600-plus members represent a broad spectrum of businesses and professional people who live and work in an area between Route 52 and Camp Pendleton Marine base.
The Chamber is the central connecting point for Think Local First.
By unifying this diverse and unique group of businesses under the Think Local First philosophy, the Chamber has gained support from many elected officials. Keeping commerce and tax revenue within local communities has a direct impact on the vibrancy of every neighborhood.
Every city and public organization is in need of services and often issues what is known as a “Request for Proposals” (RFPs) from the community for those needs. Many local businesses are not aware of how, where or when these PFPs are issued.
The Chamber’s website (www.thinklocalfirstsd.com) provides a long number of links to local jurisdictions and public entities which regularly issue RFPs, and how to do business with their organizations.
The Chamber has case studies, based on public records, which show the dollar amounts that cities are spending with vendors outside the San Diego area.
The city of Poway, according to the Chamber, made purchases to outside vendors in 2012 that amounted to $9,994.291.75. Based on an eight percent sales tax rate, this meant Poway lost $799,543.34 in potential sales tax revenue that could have been allocated back into the city’s general fund.
The Chamber says that almost half of all purchases made by the city of Escondido were from vendors outside the San Diego region. The sales tax revenue lost from transactions over $15,000 alone amounted to $5,336.656.72.
The city of San Diego says it is always seeking vendors, suppliers and contractors within the region to provide quality products and services at competitive prices. Interested businesses are invited to register with the city for contracting opportunities.
The Chamber has compiled the top five general fund expenditures for each of the 10 cities in North County.
The top two expenditures for all cities are public safety programs, including police and fire. Other expenditures that are shared between most of the cities include public works such as street maintenance, parks and recreation, and landscaping; as well as community services such as cultural arts, and preserving public libraries.
Rosen is determined to get everyone to Think Local First. “It’s not possible to purchase everything local, we know that, but if everyone could reallocate 10 percent of their spending back into their communities it would make a big difference.
“When we purchase outside the region, our tax dollars are going to support other communities instead of our own.
“Local commerce is critical to the vibrancy of our communities. Local business owners invest in our local non-profits, communities and schools and it is important that we support them and their sustainability in the region.”
Top 5 General Fund Expenditures
By compiling the top five general fund expenditures for each of the 10 cities in North County, the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce discovered that the top two expenditures for all cities are public safety programs including police and fire. Other expenditures that are shared between most of the cities include public works such as street maintenance, parks and recreation, and landscaping; as well as community services such as cultural arts, and preserving public libraries.
The Chamber recently sent out public records requests to multiple cities and school districts to find out how much of the general fund they spent within and outside of the region of San Diego County for the 2012 year. Surprisingly, our municipalities have been spending millions of dollars outside of the region.
About 20 percent of the general fund is comprised of local tax dollars. This means that a portion of tax dollars coming out of the pockets of local residents are being spent on cities across the United States. Thus, local money is leaving the region and aiding other cities’ expenditures rather than our own.
Purchasing, hiring, and contracting locally would mean that each city could increase the amount of the general fund. As a result, cities would have more money to support public safety programs, maintaining streets and landscaping, parks and recreation, and other community services which will enhance the quality of life in such region.
Gross General Fund
These numbers are based on the 2011-2012 fiscal year budgets by each city.
Sales Tax: a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services.
Gneral Fund: a city’s pool of money from various sources, one of which is sales tax revenue. This fund is typically used to cover local expenses in the areas of legislative and administrative services, public safety, community services and public works.