What would you do with $22 million? | Tom Pierson

The Federal Way Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new "shop local" program, Federal Way First, aimed at strengthening our local economy.

We kicked it off with a business and community rally on Saturday, May 9, and had over 60 people on the corner of 320th Street and Pacific Highway waving signs and rallying support for the cause. The Federal Way City Council proclaimed the day "Federal Way First Day" in honor of the dedication and hard work local businesses do for the community.

What is Federal Way First? It is a city-wide initiative for creating a strong economy founded on local businesses. We encourage consumers to shop locally and help businesses compete more effectively. Federal Way First's mission is to support local businesses in the Federal Way area, maintain our unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs and build community economic strength.

Why focus on local businesses? While state and national economies are often featured in the press, local economies have the most significant impact on our day-to-day lives. The majority of jobs created are by local businesses.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs contribute jobs at relatively low cost, creating a pool of skilled and semi-skilled workers. They also become a source of innovation in products, services and techniques, linking socially, economically and geographically diverse sectors. This provides a stable training ground for entrepreneurial and managerial talent. In addition, local businesses have a greater allegiance to their communities, providing civic leadership and giving our city a unique identity.

Local business transactions also curb the loss of consumer, business and government dollars that go toward purchasing products and services from companies outside of our community. Small businesses can plug the leaks, re-circulating dollars within the community and multiplying the benefits of our local wealth, rather than leaking capital out of the region. We can further reduce leakage by identifying and developing local suppliers for products and services needed by area businesses, consumers and government.

So what does that mean to you? If everyone in Federal Way, including businesses, spent just 1 percent more in Federal Way than they currently do, it would equal $22 million. What would you do with $22 million? In Federal Way this $22 million could enhance city projects through taxes. It could support local non-profits such as the Boys and Girls Club, FUSION and the Multi-Service Center, and it could increase the success and prosperity of our community's business owners. The excitement is contagious: Posters are out all around the community. The Federal Way Chamber and local businesses are ready to make a difference; all we need is you. Live local, think local and shop local — put Federal Way First!

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