September 1, 2010

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Utah’s Own

Making the Difference for Homegrown Products

Janine S. Creager

September 1, 2010

“He said, ‘My dad, because we need the money to pay for our house,’” recalls Winterton. At that the youngster responded, “I get it!”

“Sometimes we have to put it right down to a person, an individual,” says Winterton. “Do you understand the overall impact of buying local? It is the people and the families, and the jobs and the businesses that are created.”

Do the Math
Jed Christenson, director of marketing at Utah’s Own explains it like this: "There are approximately 800,000 households along the Wasatch Front. If each would spend an additional $10 per week for locally made products instead of national brands, that would put an additional $8 million into the local economy. Using a conservative multiplier of three, $8 million creates an additional $24 million in local economic activity per week.  Over a year, what seems to be a meager amount of only $10 per household turns into $1.25 billion of additional prosperity to our state. We can make a substantial difference if we each do our part of buying local."

Money talks. That’s no surprise. So how, then, can buying a local product—which may or may not be the least expensive—make sense to an individual’s bottom line?

By buying locally, the consumer helps to build a healthier local economy, and thus becomes part of the solution to greater statewide economic concerns. In addition, local purchases help to sustain employment for friends, family and neighbors, while enhancing local tax bases.

 Beyond that, according to Utah’s Own, in a real dollar-for-dollar perspective, money spent on locally made products purchased at locally owned companies has a higher “stick” value. It goes back in the local economy rather than benefitting another state’s or country’s economy. Utah’s Own asserts that every dollar spent on a Utah product effectively adds $4 to $6 to Utah’s economy.”

When these overall financial benefits are coupled with an increase in the quality of the goods sold, the discussion becomes all the more compelling. Take, for example, the difference between buying locally grown produce, picked at near ripeness, and buying products grown hundreds or thousands of miles away, products which must be picked early to account for transportation. Then add to that more specific concerns in the post-9/11 era.

“With the food products, one of the benefits of buying local actually even has to do with food security,” shares Caras. “The food doesn’t travel as far; you can trace the elements that are put into the food. . . . It doesn’t transfer through so many hands. In the long run, it’s fresher; it has all of the nutrients.”

While the public may instinctively know this, Caras goes back to the discussion of education to remind consumers what is truly at stake.

 “There are some amazing products in the state of Utah that are made here and produced here that people all over the world are clamoring for,” he says. “We need to educate our citizens about what those things are. We’ve got it right in our backyard… Look at all of the high-quality, high-tech and good-to-eat products that are made here.”

The whole point, says Caras, is for consumers “to be educated and then to be loyal.”

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