The benefits of localism

Categories: How To
Published on: October 20, 2015 / Steve Dubb, Michael Shuman / 20 October 2015

Michael ShumanSD: You’ve done a lot of consulting studies on local procurement. Just how much of an economic difference does local procurement make?

MS: What these studies do – and I’ve authored about 20 of them — is look at what would happen to a community, city, or region if the presence of local industry grows. What would happen if you increased local purchasing by consumers, businesses, and government procurement and local industry expanded accordingly? Some of these studies look at a 10%, 20%, or 25% shift of the entire economy. Some look specifically at localization of food sectors.

It turns out that even a very modest shift generates a huge number of jobs. For example, Leslie Schaller, Brad Masi, and I did a study of metro Cleveland five years ago looking at the impact of a 25% shift toward local food. We found that this shift would generate 27,000 new jobs, $250 million more of tax revenues, and nearly $1 billion more in wages. The job impact is so profound that it would reemploy 1 in 8 unemployed residents of the region. Food, of course, is just one sector. If you localize other sectors modestly, the job impact can be even more profound.