Submitted by the North Fork Chamber of Commerce
EASTERN MADERA COUNTY – On Monday, Dec. 2, the North Fork Chamber of Commerce released a letter encouraging residents to ‘Think Local First’ this holiday season and support local business.
The letter, which cites data from a recent consumer study, describes how money spent locally helps build sustainable communities, and explains how dollars spent in another county by residents are being used to fund lawsuits against their own Eastern Madera Community.
“The average resident spends $542 per month away from Eastern Madera County which totals $147 million each year on just the top five categories of goods they purchase the most. Ninety-nine percent of this money spent occurs in Fresno,” explains Neil O’Brien, who spearheaded the project. “This letter lets locals know where their money goes, and what happens with it when it leaves here.”
“We’ve done the homework and now we can put together both short and long term economic plans to address the issues,” says North Fork Chamber of Commerce President, Scott Marsh. “Over the past year or so, the mountain area chambers dove in head first to sort out where we are economically. We wanted to understand small economies, economies with similar conditions and most of all how our local economy works.”
“Wealth is very seasonal for tourism-based economies. Money comes in a few times a year while dollars are leaked outside of the community on a year-round basis by purchases made away from the area.” This spending accounts for a substantial portion of the unemployment problem here in Eastern Madera County, claims O’Brien. “And many times, this money could be spent on the exact same goods and services offered in their own community which would help improve the local employment picture.”
The letter goes on to inform Madera residents of legal troubles they face as a result of a lawsuit filed against them by the City of Fresno. It also explains that Fresno’s lawsuit seeks to kill approved developments in Madera County along the Highway 41 corridor which would create jobs for Eastern Madera residents and stop the continuing retail leakage of wealth into Fresno.
“The county faces high unemployment and poverty levels — these are facts I don’t deny,” says Madera County Supervisor, Tom Wheeler. “This development puts folks back to work in our community. It’s unfortunate that Fresno happens to be suing their own customers in Eastern Madera County to stop this development.” They are also using some of our own tax money to do it.
“Thinking Local First” this holiday season matters because local charities receive three times greater support from smaller, resident owned businesses. And since local businesses are owned by the very same families that live within the area, they are more likely to continue investing in their community while providing more local jobs for people you might know.
“There couldn’t be a better time than now for sharing this ‘Think Local First’ message with the community,” states Supervisor Wheeler. “Now that the holiday season is upon us and we begin to reflect on what we are most thankful for, let’s show our appreciation for the community and make a commitment to stay as local as we can. And if you must make purchases that you cannot otherwise acquire in your own area, at least consider keeping your purchases within the county by shopping in the Greater Madera area.”
Madera County residents and business owners are encouraged to read the Chamber’s open letter by clicking here, or by visiting www.North-Fork-Chamber.com. A handout which contains a summary of the research project can be picked up at the North Fork Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce located on 33037 Road 222 in downtown North Fork.
North Fork Chamber of Commerce is a privately funded, all-volunteer organization whose mission is to revitalize the local economy in a sustainable manner that benefits the residents, business owners, and tourists visiting the area. Neil O’Brien is a Fresno State University student majoring in Recreation and Economics fulfilling an internship placement through the Department of Recreation. Scott Marsh is a local business owner who serves as a sitting commissioner on the Madera Economic Development Commission. Tom Wheeler serves as the Chairman for Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council, a four county non-profit organization responsible for launching the ‘Think Local First’ campaign in the region. The mission of YSRC&DC is to promote the quality and aesthetic values of our cultural, environmental, and recreational resources by improving the quality of life through diverse sustainable economic development.