COLUMNS

Let's make the shift

Jennifer Daly
Jennifer Daly is the executive director and CEO of the Morton Economic Development Council and the Morton Chamber of Commerce

Last week, I found myself driving back from a meeting on the north side of Peoria with a gas tank drifting towards empty.  

Ten years ago, in this type of situation, I would have simply pulled off the road and filled my tank at the nearest station. Now, I know better. Now, I know how powerful my dollars are, how great their impact can be and how important a decision it is each and every time I spend one. Now, I pass on by that nearby station and wait to “fill ‘er up” in Morton.

Just think about how each dollar we spend in Morton trickles through our local economy, helping us prosper and grow in so many ways. 

Taxes to support our roads, schools and parks, wages for local workers and donations to community churches and charities all originate from dollars spent in Morton businesses.  Whenever we spend those dollars in other communities, it is not only our merchants that loose, it is our entire system.

A study done in Southeast Iowa several years ago indicated that if each business in the region shifted just 5 percent of what they were currently spending outside the region to inside the region, the region would gain 1,200 new jobs and millions in tax dollars — with just a 5 percent shift. 

It was an eye-opener for community leaders, business owners and citizens alike.

So, here is my challenge to every Mortonite. Let’s make the shift. If we each spend just $10 more per week in Morton, instead of in another community, we will generate $8.8 million more in income for our local businesses and $540,000 in new sales tax this year. 

And, there are so many ways we can all make that shift.  Changing where we purchase our groceries, morning coffee or lunch are some easy options to consider. Using a local insurance agency, attorney, bank, dentist, financial planner or hair dresser can generate local dollars quickly, too.  The next time you need something for a home repair, head to a local hardware store instead of to East Peoria. There are so many ways to make a $10-per-week shift.

Of course, you can always do what I do. Pass by that nearby service station and head to Morton to “fill ‘er up.” You won’t believe how good you will feel taking an active role in helping us build a strong, local economy.