Call to Buy Local as $200 million lost to community businesses

Be loyal, buy local: St George Business Chamber president Allan Zreik wants to close the door on the millions flowing to businesses outside the area. Picture: John Veage
Be loyal, buy local: St George Business Chamber president Allan Zreik wants to close the door on the millions flowing to businesses outside the area. Picture: John Veage

Georges River residents spent more than $116 million within the local government area in June but another $203 million outside their area.

This was five per cent increase on the same month last year.

Local businesses leaders fear if the trend continues there will be a corresponding shrinkage of the local economy and jobs, particularly for young job seekers.

To counteract the outflow of millions of dollars from the local economy, the St George Business Chamber has released its action plan for the next 12 months to raise the awareness of residents of the importance of supporting local businesses.

The chamber's Strategic Plan for By Local, Stay Local campaign aims to help local businesses to promote their products and services and encourage local residents to support businesses in their community by shopping locally.

"By going local, residents are directly investing in the future of our local community," St George Business Chamber president Allan Zreik said.

The Buy Local, Stay Local Action Plan has four strategies: getting businesses onboard and increasing chamber membership; partnering with stakeholders; setting up a Buy Local business directory; surveying residents to see what they have spent as a result of the Buy Local campaign, how much they have spent and on what.

The campaign will be supported by marketing material including Buy Local shopfront posters and window stickers, bumper stickers and badges.

The chamber's partners in the Buy Local campaign are Georges River Council, Bayside Council, community radio station 2NBC 90.1fm, The Leader and the NSW Government.

The Buy Local, Stay Local campaign was launched by the chamber in September making it the first of its kind by any business chamber within the Sydney metropolian area.

Following the launch, Oatley MP Mark Coure acknowledged in State Parliament the great work of the St George Business Chamber in launching its new Buy Local initiative.

"This new campaign aims to promote, support and benefit small businesses and communities within the local area, covering around 16,000 business that fall within the Georges River Council area.," Mr Coure said.

"The initiative will assist small businesses to grow, create more local jobs and give back to the community. Small businesses employ almost 50 per cent of the New South Wales workforce," he said.

"As a former small business owner myself, it is great to see the St George Business Chamber pioneer this initiative, which will see our small business owners supported and given a genuine chance of success."

Research by Georges River Council shows that for the month of June residents spent over $116 million within the Georges River local government area while the local spend by visitors to the ara was $136.5 million.

During the same period, local residents spent $203 million outside the Georges River local government area, up five per cent on the same time last year. They also spent a further $131 million online.

"This five per cent increase in resident spend outside our area means that local goods and service providers are losing market share to non-local businesses," Georges River Council mayor, Kevin Greene said, speaking at the chamber's annual business breakfast.

"Residents are spending more outside our area than within, and they are spending more online," Cr Green said.

"The council tracked this data with his new Spendmapp dashboard which it acquired in June and which supplies banking data that allow us to track the spending of residents, visitors and businesses to the area.

"Spendmapp also allows the council to see residential expenditure outside the local government area by type of expenditure and location."

Mr Zreik said the data showed the importance of buying locally and supporting local businesses, particularly in the Christmas period.

"Think about where you are shopping," Mr Zreik said. "Rather than travelling outside the area, stay local.

"By supporting local businesses you are supporting the local economy and local jobs. It also helps our local young people to get jobs.

"This is why it is so important that we are supporting the local economy.

"This is a rally call to get out and support your local business and economy and jobs for your kids.

"A lot of local businesses, especially in Westfield, are hiring young people during the Christmas holidays.

"If you don't support local businesses it eventually results in less choice locally. We urge shoppers to spread their Christmas cheer in the local economy.

"It's the best time of the year to be generous and give back to each other and your community."