Camden pushes local shopping message to assist small-business owners
A new campaign launched today by Camden County's Economic Development and Business Services team will partner municipalities with more than 170 local businesses to promote the benefits of shopping locally and spur job growth.
"Small businesses are (the) backbone of our economy. The more success they have, the better off the county will be," said Louis Cappelli Jr., Camden County freeholder director. "We all benefit when people shop locally."
According to Cappelli, if every household in Camden County transitioned $10 of their monthly retail spending from companies outside of the county to businesses within it, the annual economic benefit to the county would be approximately $35 million.
"With consumer shopping habits, people are not thinking through where they're shopping," said Sandi Kelly, the county's director of economic development. "They get what they need to get, and they're moving on."
Cappelli said tens of thousands of cars pass through the county's municipalities on a daily basis, but small-business owners have struggled with budgeting advertising dollars to attract new customers, since banks have restricted financing. He said increasing gas prices will help drive awareness for the buy local campaign, as less people opt to travel further away to shop.
To help local merchants attract new customers — and increase the number of people employed locally — the initiative will provide advertising and marketing materials and special events opportunities through government financing programs, business sponsorships and local media partnerships.
"Several towns can use some assistance, and marketing is a big part of it," Cappelli said. "A lot of the towns that don't have a downtown area also don't have advertising dollars that the national chains have. This allows those businesses to participate and pool into efforts and investments to do so."
According to Kelly, Camden County's career center will develop a retail training program within a year to help businesses that will grow from the local initiative and employ more people. She said in the meantime, the economic development team will provide an overview of business services, incentives and financing programs available through local, state and federal government agencies to companies looking to get involved in the campaign.
Kelly said the ongoing initiative will host a county-wide committee of 10 to 20 diverse business leaders and local government officials to "create as many ideas as possible around the table" for grassroots marketing efforts, business expansion and job creation.