Hey, Pontiac, a challenge!

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During the pandemic we became accustomed to even more government interventions into the economy – in all sorts of ways.  We heard of huge “gifts” to industry (Air Canada, the most recent) and, yes, they are called “loans”, just as all the aid to the auto industry back in the 2008 Wall Street collapse. They weren’t paid back – and there seems no way (read, no backbone) to recoup this without angering the corporate boardrooms. We’ve come to think of these gifts as crucial – and we begin criticizing gov’t and politicians for not doing more… everyone has a different take, different priorities, different loyalties to free enterprise… and we easily ignore any voices reminding us that we, taxpayers, must repay this money. That’s free enterprise: although gov’ts create and manage the money supply, they have to borrow from, and pay interest to, the banks on their own money. Whatever the automakers or Air Canada failed to pay back, eventually we citizens had to pay back – that’s every household in Pontiac, to be specific.

So, we would benefit from a stronger local economy, right? Here’s one of many ways to help that develop – by just redirecting some of our already-committed spending (like groceries!)

If every Pontiac household or family was to commit to spend $50 locally per week of what they’ll already spend elsewhere, that would inject almost $1.5 million per month – or 18 million per year – into our local economy. Results: more jobs, more local taxes paid, which increases public services; summer jobs for our kids… and more. Local shopping choices increase; more services are launched.

Spending just $50 a week outside the Pontiac – that’s $18 million in total leaving the Pontiac and enriching outside businesses and employers. This is not hypothetical – before the pandemic, our highways out of the Pontiac were busy with shoppers. Local families made weekly shopping trips elsewhere, taking our shopping dollars out of our local economy, passing them to economies elsewhere – and then we complain there’s “nothing to buy here”! The main reason there’s “nothing” here is because we – ourselves – make sure there’s nothing here by taking our shopping elsewhere. A store here can’t keep a full inventory all ready just in case you forgot an item while shopping in Renfrew!

Here’s “The $50 Challenge”. We have to buy our groceries, clothing, hardware, building supplies, gifts, all those things we have to buy – switch $50 of it here. Make do with the limited offerings to start with – until we stimulate local offerings.

This has worked elsewhere. The local newspaper in Moosomin, Saskatchewan’s “$50 challenge” was remarkably successful. We can do the same thing. Our shopping dollars benefit ourselves.

The Pandemic’s gone. Will we return to cross-border shopping and kill what’s left of local shops – or are we and our households up to the $50 challenge?