By: Liz Slocum ~Staff Writer~
In an age where people are suffering financially as a result of businesses “going global” to maximize profits, how do we invest in a better economic outlook for our community? According to economist, attorney and author Michael Shuman, our best bet is to start supporting local businesses.
On March 17, Xavier University held a town hall meeting to hear from a panel of guest speakers that included Shuman, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative founder Kristen Barker and certified public accountant (CPA) and Ohio Slow Money Group member Michele Bertaux. All three emphasized the need for an alternative approach to economic initiatives.
“In my view, an alternative approach would have three different rules,” Shuman said. “The first rule is to maximize the percentage of jobs in locally owned business. Second rule, maximize local self-reliance. Third rule, try to nurture not just local businesses in general, but local businesses with the highest labor and environmental standards.”
This alternative approach, according to the panel, would be for Xavier students and the surrounding community to rethink the support they give not only to companies that underpay their employees and promote environmentally-unfriendly standards, but also those that do not operate locally.
Organizers hope that by increasing jobs and reliance on local business rather than individual profit (and by supporting only ethical business standards), individuals can potentially reform our economy into one that is financially sustainable for both individuals and businesses, as well as environmentally friendly.
According to Bertaux, this strategy of getting money through the system slowly in order to build a better economy is something that requires local business to trust other businesses.
Xavier students, local community members and businesses must form a network of trust with the idea of solidarity with one another.
“On a scale, we have $56,000 worth of loans out,” Bertaux said. “But I believe in baby steps and I’m really talking to this group as potential people to participate in the network.”