The idea of “going local” isn’t new. Chambers of commerce have adopted the concept in various forms ever since WalMart exploded out of Arkansas. Paris pushes it, too. For years, what used to be the Lamar County Chamber has given money away to encourage people to shop at home.
But going local is more than just urging people to “shop at home”–
The Paris Chamber has argued that point for years, without making the slightest dent in the way that Paris insists on trying to make a difference.
Sure. Convincing residents to buy locally not only keeps sales tax revenue in the community, it also has the potential to recirculate money in the community as local businesses then spend that money in other local businesses. But studies show any “multiplier effect” is mostly a fantasy.
As an effective development tool, Paris might as well be spittin’ in the wind.
The rapidly-growing retail sales trend is on-line shopping. It’s creating competition for big box stores, franchised outlets, and national chains. Experts in retailing anticipate that it will continue to grow, some forecasting it as the future of retail shopping.
This, while Paris is saying, shop at home.
The point here is that retail shopping slogans and short-sighted projects won’t save Paris. Nor, will it save our locally-owned businesses. Neither will it fill up the vacant buildings in the downtown area, improve neighborhoods, or create needed new better-paying jobs.
For over 20-years, Paris has sought to boost our local economy through tax abatements and incentives to industry and a few large businesses. Even giving cash in some instances. But as the current argument over the PEDC demonstrates, each strategy has failed the success test.
Paris has lived on promises for way too long.
But Paris can achieve success by ‘going local’ – and there are steps that make it doable.
Paris needs a local strategy to bring people to Paris every month of the year, year after year, who will spend at least two or three days enjoying themselves and looking Paris over as a potential place to hang their hats. This is doable.
Paris needs a local strategy to fight unemployment and poverty in a very systemic way. Our present failure to do so is killing us. It takes an objective “to make sure that the benefits of new development and investment are shared by all of our residents” – and establish goals that help new and established businesses that are either local and small, or local and minority-or female-owned. And all this is doable.
Paris needs a local strategy to renew and redevelop blighted neighborhoods, making large older areas worthy of investment and living in, recreating worthwhile homes of character and value; and a prudent way to help low-income home-owners in designated neighborhoods repair and improve their single-family homes; and a way to help low-wage earners to buy a home of their own. And create results that will encourage others to move to Paris, reasons to hang their hat here. This is very doable, too.
ALL these things are not only possible, but realistic doable.
Going local is likely the only way to assure Paris’ future.
If Paris is to grow, Paris will have to work to do it. No one else will.
For several years, while agonizing and gritchin’ over the failure of local organizations in charge of Paris’ development, the Paris Chamber has spun out suggestions and recommendations that would assure Paris’ growth and progress – along with hints on how to do it.
It has always been about going local.
Not one of those organizations or their leadership had enough guts to challenge us on how to do it: It seems they either can’t get past the deserved criticism or they like the way Paris is going now.
It’s always been their choice.