In the summer of 2015, the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce created a new initiative called “Keep it Local.” The sole objective of the program is to strengthen our economy by promoting the concept of dining, shopping and playing local. To help further this cause, the Chamber decided to raise money through its annual golf tournament to invest into themed orange, green and blue street banners. During most summer days, these banners decorate Heber and Midway’s streets and remind residents to “Keep it Local.”
While shopping local can be defined in a variety of ways, shopping local in the Heber Valley means spending money at Wasatch County businesses — regardless of whether the business is independently owned and operated, or is part of a chain corporation.
As the Heber Valley community continues to grow, the need to support local businesses has never been greater. Shopping local is important because it strengthens the local economy, keeps local taxes low and supports our friends and neighbors.
Shopping Local Strengthens the Economy
According to data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, 3,286 people live and work in Wasatch County and 7,979 residents commute outside of the county for work opportunities. In other words, much of our talented workforce leaves the valley on a daily basis to provide for their needs. While it may be tempting for these commuters to purchase their goods outside of Wasatch County, shopping local strengthens the local economy by supporting businesses that create local jobs.
Starting and running a business can be a daunting task — especially during the first years of operation — and shopping local can provide an economic boost to new local businesses that are dependent on community support. Once a business obtains solvency, it can then look to expand operations, hire additional employees and invest more money into the community. This cycle creates positive multiplier effects that benefit many other businesses and the community as a whole.
Shopping Local Keeps Taxes Low
Similarly, shopping local also helps generate important sales tax revenues for our cities and county. Sales tax is collected in all cities and towns throughout Utah. While the sales tax rates are generally the same, each county and city may adjust the rates to some degree depending on their needs. Heber, for example, assesses a 6.25 percent sales tax on all sales made within the city.
Higher sales tax revenues allow our local governments to provide needed community services, all while keeping other taxes low. With favorable tax rates, businesses are then able to invest more money into the community, which is vital for a dynamic economy. Ultimately, the more sales tax dollars that are collected throughout Wasatch County, the more money returns to the community to help fund our local governments and the services they provide.
Shopping Local Supports Our Friends and Neighbors
A quick glance at local businesses will tell an important and often overlooked story: many of our friends and neighbors work for local companies. These same friends and neighbors are the people we invite to our children’s birthday parties, the people we go to church with and the people with whom we socialize.
These businesses are also the ones that contribute to the community in large ways. Some of these contributions include donating to local scholarships, sponsoring community activities and events, providing mentoring and internship opportunities to high school students, and so much more. When we shop local, we directly support our fellow community members.
How to Shop Locally
While online shopping is convenient, many local businesses can ship the same products to their own stores. This was the case for me a few years ago when my family decided to upgrade our furniture. We found a furniture set that we liked, but we couldn’t seem to find it in any Heber Valley store. We decided to speak with the owners of a local furniture store. They were able to place the order to their store, deliver the furniture and even set it up in our home — all while matching online prices.
The Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce also sponsors various events throughout the year to encourage local shopping. Each spring, dozens of Heber Valley restaurants participate in the dine-about and offer deep discounts to the community. Each fall, local businesses participate in a week-long campaign geared toward increasing local spending. The week culminates with Shop-Local Saturday and a tree lighting ceremony in Midway.
Ultimately, shopping local is an easy way to support our growing community. If we’re all a little more mindful of its benefits, shopping local will not only help our amazing business community, but also the friends and neighbors that depend on our support.
With more than 1,000 businesses located in Wasatch County, the likelihood of finding quality goods and services is quite high — if you’re willing to do a little research.
To find and support local businesses, check out the GO HEBER VALLEY mobile app or go online to gohebervalley.com or hebervalleylife.com/resource-guide.