This is the issue. The Commission has recently done a tremendous job getting recreational business into Newberry. In other industries, we are lagging behind. This represents a serious challenge because, in order to capitalize on the tourist dollars, we need the support businesses. This is what I’m thinking about:
Too many communities approach economic development as just getting a business to move into their town. That certainly is a valid strategy and one we need to pursue. But, it shouldn’t be our first or even primary strategy. Our first strategy should be to grow what we have. Our local businesses are here. They’re already up and running. If we can help them grow, we add jobs immediately and at much less cost and effort than required to get a new business into town. So, for example, we should first approach our existing restaurants to see if they are interesting in expanding.
Shop local. In the category under Jobs, I have already addressed one way to help our local businesses grow, which is shopping local. Again, if each of us just spends 10% more of our purchases in Newberry, we would increase the number of jobs in Newberry and encourage our local businesses to expand.
We need to look for ways to broaden markets for local products. I would propose we seek the assistance of Agricultural Extension Office to conduct a study of the level of impact that would occur if the School Board, Santa Fe, the University and other large purchasers of food were to purchase more food from our farmers. If the study shows a strong impact, then, I would propose a City-led effort to bring together all the needed parties to find ways to do this.
We need to find out what our residents need and want that they can’t get in Newberry. The businesses of Newberry can’t supply every want or need, but they might be able to meet more of the resident’s needs if they had the information. The City, in conjunction with the Main Street Organization and the Chamber, could do a brief survey.
Create better market data for our local businesses. Other cities are using their GIS (Geographic Information System) data to help local businesses better understand the local marketplace. We should examine what it would take for us to do the same.
Create an internet and social marketing sales strategy. Local businesses often aren’t just local. We have a number of businesses whose marketplace is national at least. We should examine ways to support a stronger internet presence for Newberry. Establishing a local search engine is one way we could do this. There are tools on Twitter, Yelp, and Google which also can be used to promote local businesses.
What are some other ways we can assist our local businesses to grow? Are there any barriers to growth the City could address? Where do they see growth in their industry? Please, comment freely and actively!