The impact and sustainable value of healthy local economies will be the subject of the GAINS (Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability) meeting Aug. 13 at Musica in Akron. The discussion for the evening will cover the multiple benefits and the economic power that resides in a vibrant local food economy. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for networking. The free program begins at 6:15 p.m. with time for questions and answers at the close of the talks.
Phillip Nabors, co-owner with Margaret Nabors of Mustard Seed Market and Cafe and Blueberry Hill Family Farms will speak and moderate the evenings discussion “Growing food, Growing jobs. Growing the future,” which will focus on entrepreneurial development and feature entrepreneurs starting and building businesses within the local food supply chain. Speakers for the evening will include: Brent Wesley, owner of the Akron Honey Company, Yvette McMillan, Women’s Division Director at Haven of Rest Ministries and Sarah Vradenburg with Feed My Sheep Garden a program of First Congregational Church in Akron.
Both women will describe their partnership in the social invention of The Future Story Job Training Program, which helps women with barriers to employment develop micro enterprise businesses, including growing and selling food and making food totes. Sara Moledor will discuss her award-winning vermiculture start-up business development opportunity.
National trends show an 18-percent increase in “local food” market growth over the past decade through “direct-to market” channel sales such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmer stands, farmers markets, food hubs, urban gardens and owner cooperatives. Twenty percent of that growth is accounted for through the development of local anchor institutions, such as hospitals, corporations and state governments committing to source local.
Benefits of a vigorous local supply chain include: the creation of jobs, retention of a greater percentage of sales revenue, increased wages and proprietor incomes, additional business activity, spurring of additional spending and an increased consumer demand. Studies show that investment into small agri-food businesses generates one job for every $5,714 of capital investment, whereas investment into large agri-food businesses generates only one job per $59,537 of capital investment.
Economic models in Ohio confirm if consumers and local business bought 25 percent more of their food from their local region, it would create $4.2 billion of additional output and $1.5 billion of additional value-added activity, It has been demonstrated that when a consumer chooses to purchase from a locally owned business, $73 of every $100 stays within the community. In contrast, if a consumer chooses to purchase from a non-locally owned business, only $43 of every $100 stays within the community.
A local economy is guided by the principles of producing and exchanging locally, within a defined region, as many products and services needed by the whole community can reasonably be done. Enterprises are formed from the unique character of the region and encourage fair trade and cultural exchange and cooperation. Communities with a vibrant local focus value businesses and entrepreneurs as community stewards who accept a “living return” with triple-bottom-line benefits, rather than a maximum return and recognize the value derived from enjoying a healthy and vibrant community and sustainable global economy.
GAINS is a local gathering of sustainability practitioners (and those interested in learning, applying and sharing community culture from a long term perspective). The group works to help advance good stewardship, sustainable values and best practices in the marketplace. The salon-style meetings, held the second Wednesday of the month, are free, interactive and open to the public. Engaging with community partners on such important issues is leading edge, visionary and vital to long-term sustainability.