Much of what passes for economic development these days seems to consist of sitting around and waiting for Uncle Sam to bail you out, or demanding that politicians in Columbus or Erie County solve all of our problems.
I'm more intrigued by grassroots efforts, such as 10 Percent Shift.
The folks at 10 Percent Shift (and a related blog, Shift Across America) argue that making a conscious effort to buy locally can pay big dividends for the local economy. They ask for everyone to shift 10 percent of their annual spending budget from non-local businesses to local independent businesses to keep money in the community and help create local jobs.
This is obviously easier in some cases than others. There are no independent stores in Sandusky selling new books that I know of (although downtown has a nice used bookstore, Red Raven Books & Curiosities, and a place that sells New Age books, Midnight Moon.) If you wanted to buy a new TV set from an independent local business, where would you go?
There are quite a few independent stores, though, and I generally like locally-owned restaurants better than the chains.
An FAQ section at the 10 Percent Shift offers suggestions on how to make the shift, including (1) Refinancing your mortgage with a local bank, (2) Buying your food from local suppliers, (3) Buying your gas from local independent gas stations and (4) eliminating credit card interest.
An Internet directory of local, independent businesses would be useful to this effort.