Katie Mercado
Katie Mercado, Junior Marketing Specialist

I can’t say I hold an allegiance to any small town roots, but I do love to shop at boutiques and enjoy the personal touch of the ma and pa shop. The best perk – I always end up with products and experiences that are one of a kind!

The shop on the corner or the store down the street – have you ever thought about how many small, local businesses there are right around you ever day? You can always find a big box store, but the missing link continues to be customer service with a personal touch.

Small businesses maintain the power to bring communities together – neighbors supporting neighbors – and everyone benefiting from the fruits of hard work and collaborative efforts. That sounds nice, you may say, but what are the economic benefits? Here are some important points to consider:

  • You’re helping boost your town’s economy – more money stays in the pocket of the business owner and employees, meaning cheaper prices for you
  • The ability to form trusting relationships – you’ll feel more confident in your purchases and spend less time worrying if you’re just another number to the big chain
  • Satisfaction of supporting neighbors – when you support your local business owners, they support you back by providing the best, looking out for your interest
  • Back to the root of business – small businesses are often number two to the big box stores, which means they’re always working above and beyond, on top of their game, to try to make an impression

Now you’re convinced but need to know how to make the change. We’ve found that solution too!  A viral Buy Local campaign known as The 3/50 Project has set a challenge for consumers to visit three different small businesses each month and spend $50 at each. This slowly transitions you into the buy local state of mind, while also allowing you to try a variety of small businesses in your area and hopefully experience some new and exciting shops.

So give it a try! Buy local, support small businesses in your backyard and be an integral part of helping communities succeed, even during tough economic times.

Sarah West
Sarah West serves as A. Bright Idea’s Government Public Affairs Specialist.

As a military brat in the mid 90’s, the word “BRAC” was scary. It meant we might have to move again and it clearly amped up the stress level in my house. We survived the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, round and moved on to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida where I happily adjusted to weekends at the beach.

Now that I am on “the other side,” as a contractor, supporting a government client onsite at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), BRAC has taken on a different meaning for me. I am excited to watch outstanding science and technology Army missions relocate to APG, but tinged with concern when I sit in the new bumper-to-bumper traffic traveling off post at the end of each day. “This is just the beginning,” I’ve grumbled to myself lately.

Although BRAC is strictly a business decision, aimed at improving the efficiency of our national security structure, it is laced with great emotion – on both sides. I have seen the great communication and marketing efforts aimed at those coming to Maryland, focusing on our state’s appeal, but what does “Jane,” who lived in Harford County her whole life, think about BRAC impacts? Does she know what is going on and does she even care?

Sure, I might have to sit in traffic a few more minutes than I did last year, but because I attend many of the BRAC network meetings I know that APG turning into one of the nation’s most important science and security headquarters will bring a meaningful economic boom to our county and ultimately our state. Does Jane know that? Or does Jane just think BRAC means more traffic, an overpopulated classroom at her child’s school and a longer wait at the ER?

I challenge the military and the Harford County government to engage the current residents and businesses of the county.  Share BRAC news frequently—in the Aegis, on radio, billboards, blogs, tweets and events.  Let’s see BRAC information at the 4th of July parade, BBQ bash, the Farm Fair and even Harford Mall.  We need to make sure that our neighbors perceive BRAC as a positive economic AND lifestyle gain.  A robust community offers potential for better infrastructure, job opportunities, choices in our children’s education and excellent medical care.  Let’s motivate our cheerleaders before its too late and they put their pom poms down.