Particularly since the onset of the pandemic, people want to support local businesses to help others within their own community.
Buying local makes a difference. A dollar spent locally will have more than a dollar’s impact on the Saskatoon Region’s economy. The local company you spent your dollar with will use it to hire local people. It might source some of its own products and services from local vendors. And company profits will stay here in our community. Your dollar goes a long way.
In addition to supporting our neighbours, buying local makes sense for business reasons too. Sometimes prices are lower because you can avoid expenses such as shipping charges from out-of-province suppliers. In other situations, buying local means you’ll receive better customer service or quicker delivery. Whatever your reason, doing business locally is good for business.
Buying local makes a difference. A dollar spent locally will have more than a dollar’s impact on the Saskatoon Region’s economy.
How local is your business?
As Joanne Baczuk, Director of Business Development for the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) explains, some businesses are more local than others. “A truly local business has local ownership, buys goods and services it needs to operate from other local suppliers, and supports the local community through donations or volunteering time for worthy causes.”
One example of a company with a strong local focus is Black Fox Farm and Distillery, a diversified farming operation that produces award-winning spirits (such as oaked gin and raspberry liqueur) and boasts the largest cut flower farm on the prairies.
Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote and John Cote, Black Fox’s owners, are mindful of supporting local companies when selecting suppliers. Over 90% of what they spend to run their business is spent in the local economy. This includes things like graphic design services for the labels on their spirits and the marketing services to promote their products. It includes training services for employees and maintenance services on equipment. They hire local employees to work in their fields and their processing plant. The few things they source from elsewhere cannot be purchased locally.
Local companies tend to support their local community. Black Fox donated hand sanitizer it manufactured at the start of the pandemic. The company’s owners have donated the use of their facility to charities, they have served on boards of directors for local organizations, and they’ve donated flowers to hospital emergency workers.
Which companies are local?
People often can’t tell whether a company is truly local. That’s where SREDA’s Local Link program comes in.
“The Local Link program helps consumers support local businesses in the Saskatoon Region,” Baczuk explains. “By checking for the Gold, Silver, or Bronze Local Link label, shoppers can learn more about how close to their home a product or service is created.”
Saskatoon Region businesses can apply to the program to measure how locally they operate, from ownership to procurement, and can use the process to find ways of increasing their local engagement in the Saskatoon Regional economy.
SREDA launched this new program in partnership with the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce and the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce, representing the Warman and Martensville regions.
Alex Fallon, President and CEO of SREDA, explained how Local Link was created.
“There’s no doubt COVID-19 has greatly impacted our local businesses, and we knew we had to do something to take the ‘shop local’ message even further. So, we did what SREDA does best: we invented a new program that will benefit our local economy. Local Link will help businesses become even more local, and help consumers make informed decisions when shopping. For SREDA, the program will help us identify gaps in our local supply chain, giving us insight into the type of businesses we need here. Then, more businesses will be linked together right here in our own backyard. It’s about reimagining what’s possible in terms of creating a total supply chain within the Saskatoon Region.”
When you display the Local Link label, your potential customers can easily see your commitment to supporting the local economy. Consumers will know your business is local and shop accordingly. Businesses can support your company through choosing which suppliers they use.
Strengthening your local commitment
Participating in the Local Link program will help you become more fully engaged in the local economy. The program will identify areas where your company uses an out-of-market supplier, and SREDA can help you find local suppliers to increase your local content.
Local companies tend to do business with other local companies. One local company that’s part of the Local Link program, Innovative Stonecraft, was unable to promote its product through tradeshows this year because of the pandemic. Instead, it focused on connecting with architects who could use Innovative Stonecraft’s construction materials in building designs. Baczuk introduced Innovative Stonecraft to Henry Downing Architects, another Local Link program participant, and the two companies immediately recognized that the stone products were suitable for some of the firm’s architecture work.
When you are considering where to buy something you need to think a bit closer to home than Amazon. Look for the Local Link label. Saskatoon’s business community is vibrant and diverse. You can buy just about everything you need from someone just around the corner.
First published in the December 2020 edition of The Business Advisor.