Stopping Generational Poverty with Your Business

We as business owners actually hold the key to making our communities a better place to live, work, and to raise our families. It is such a simple idea that I am at a loss as to why it is not being discussed by our community leaders and local government leaders.

Generational poverty has gotten a real foothold in this country in the last few years. Support for those in this situation has gotten hard to obtain as this problem keeps increasing with each generation. Broken homes, a bleak employment picture, and increasing reliance on government are the leading contributors to this continuance of hopelessness.

Business owners understand this problem very well. The difficulty in finding employees who will show up to work, pass a drug test, and not get their first paycheck and spend it on drugs or alcohol is well documented. The decrease in customers within our local shops due to an ever increasing utilization of shopping for just about everything on the internet does not support growth in our local communities much less job development.

Our schools continue to get poor grades for those who attend. Money is not the issue nor is it the solution. The ability of our teachers and superintendents is also not an issue here. Community involvement is the key.

howardThe magical formula that can and has ended generational poverty in several cities is for the local population to support the local businesses. High school students in Howard, South Dakota, in Miner County, came up with a solution to their town dying which is another form of poverty. Their county needed an increase and boost in investment, entrepreneurship, and immigration. However, these are things that were out of the students control or ability to influence. They could influence a very important factor and that was spending their money locally. How to accomplish this?

The students got together with their high school business teacher and set up a seminar in their school to teach county residents about the power of buying locally and supporting their local business community. They did research and analysis on the demographics of the county residents, the mean average annual income ($26,500), and what keeping money in the county could generate.

The recommendation was simple. All the students asked was that each county resident spend 10% of what they would normally spend within Miner County. They did not ask for donations, an increase in the amount of spending by the residents, or government dollars. They calculated that if all of the county residents (approximately 3000) would spend the 10% in Miner County they could generate about $7 million in revenue.

The county residents listened and responded. They did not want to see Howard or Miner County degenerate into a ghost town. The revenue that was generated exceeded all expectations in the first year by reaching $15.6 million. This continued to increase the revenues for the entire county as the tax revenues went up, allowing for the support of more groups that revitalized the local markets, job opportunities, and expanded services that attracted more businesses and people to the area. Today Howard is a thriving city and Miner County is no longer heading to dust bowl status.

We have the capability to turn our community around simply by supporting our local businesses with dollars we are going to spend anyway. The next time you need business cards give the business to your local printer. Buy your next pair of shoes at the local department store. Get your gas from the in-town gas station. Buy produce from the local farmers market.

The life you save could be your own. The changes you can make will change your life. And you will be making a difference within your own community.

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