When we launched the Best of Jackson reader poll back in 2002, we did it in part because we wanted people to fully grasp all of the wonderful and unique local people, places and businesses that Jackson had to offer.
Twelve years later, we're reminded of that mission as Jackson seems to be passing through a gauntlet of sorts when we look at the retail landscape in 2014. With name brands such as Whole Foods and H&M making an appearance in the headlines, it's rewarding to think of the Jackson metro as an attractive place for outside investment—and to marvel at how we've grown.
But, at the same time, it's also important to remember how critical local shopping is to our success as a community. Take Louisville, Ky., for example. In a 2012 study, the firm Civic Economics found that the "local recirculation" of money spent at local businesses far exceeded that spend in chains in Louisville. Only 13.6 percent of money spent at big boxes recirculated in Louisville; the rest left the city.
Contrast that with dollars spent in local businesses—55.2 percent of that money recirculated in Louisville. That number includes profits and labor dollars that go to employees, local goods bought for internal use by the businesses, local goods bought for resale and nearly five percentage points that went to charitable giving.
We are reminded that when your "supply lines" are shorter, you're going to enrich more of your partners close to home.
The key to Jackson's future is building its citizens' wealth. Those recirculating dollars are banked with local banks that then loan money for new businesses or mortgages. The owners of those businesses build wealth that they can use to partner in new ventures or to capitalize their children's educations and endeavors; the revenues for a local business turn into revenues for their support teams—local CPAs, attorneys, business consultants and graphic designers.
Jackson is blessed with remarkable local businesses that offer not just wonderful food or products and great service, but a uniqueness that adds to the cultural experience that is "Local Jackson." And local independents add to the flavor of our bedroom communities, as well—and arguably have to fight even harder when your mayor is always batting her eyes at a shiny new Mega-Mart with "tasteful" interstate signage.
Here's to the crazy ones—misfits, rebels—who start their own businesses, fire up the cash register and try their hardest to offer the world something a little different from the cookie-cutter rest-of-it-all.
Some of you do such a great job that thousands of our readers have come together to agree that you're among the best that we have to offer and to praise you for it. We salute you.
Here's to the Best of Jackson ... now go spend with them!