Main Street has proven time and again that it is the only proven engine behind any economic recovery.
As consumers and neighbors, we don't feel confident about spending our dollars when our local shops on Main Street don't sparkle, and there are vacancy signs in every other window. In fact, for some neighborhoods, those vacancy signs are just the beginning of a downturn to crime and vandalism.
Remember the recessions of the 1980's when storefronts were dark? Remember the boom times of the 1990's when stores were filled, shopkeepers were smiling and confidence was at an all time high?
Main Street is a reflection of our confidence as individuals, as a community and as a country. Look at the beautiful Main Streets of Maryland from Berlin, Easton, St Michaels, Salisbury, Cambridge and Chestertown. The stores in each unique historic setting bring tourists from big cities as far as 200 miles away. Maryland's economy depends on each and every one of those local businesses to serve as a magnet for tourism dollars.
Wendy's Dream for Hampden
Wendy Rosen's career has been devoted to the needs of America's smallest businesses and creative start-ups. The Mill Centre small business and studio complex in Hampden was my first urban revitalization dream. It only took two years to turn a civil war cotton mill into an incubator for start-up businesses and an economic engine that fed the local economy.
In 1984, Hampden area homes averaged $50,000 in value. Today Hampden area homes average $200,000 in value. Vacant storefronts on the "Avenue" are gone, replaced by galleries, gift shops, salons, cafes and great restaurants. The "Avenue" sparkles every evening as locals enjoy the "Hairspray" culture of the neighborhood.
What did this project cost Maryland and the US government? One community development LOAN of $545,000 created $200,000,000 in home equity growth and $6,000,000 in annual tax revenue for the state of Maryland. Add hundreds of new jobs created over the past 25 years of continued revitalization and you've got a great return on public investment.
America needs to rebuild a vibrant local economy where every dollar
is spent efficiently-- to support our neighbors and build new local jobs.
Those new jobs need to be more than minimum wage too. We need to revitalize domestic manufacturing. The new jobs won't come from big factories, it will more likely be small local, and cottage industry producers. I've seen real evidence that we have a new manufacturing sector ready to grow. We need to provide the education and training necessary for those businesses to grow. The growth of Chinese manufacturing has come to a halt, as more and more US companies return their production to the USA. Why? Because consumers like you are demanding American Made; and for some manufacturers, the price difference is not worth the off-shore problems
New Jobs for a New Economy
The best new jobs on the horizon will be for the self-employed, and we all have to help create the local support and confidence that will support them through that difficult start-up process. As Americans we need to stop saying the words "Nothing is Made in America." It's not true! Shop at your local farmers market, tell store owners that you want to see more Made in America products, the more they hear it, the more they will search for those incredible local and domestic products.
Did you know?
Less than 1 percent of all SBA loan or grant dollars go to businesses with less than 20 employees. In truth, 78 percent of all new jobs are created by start-ups or small family businesses. When you spent $10 at a big box store, $10 leaves our country before sundown. On the other hand, when you spend $10 at a small shop, almost $7 stays in the community.
Recycle Your Dollars!
It makes sense to "recycle" your dollars with small shops. And, if you purchase stuff that is made in
America, or a service provided by a local person ALL of your dollars are recycled in the local community.