After the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s successful Health & Fitness Festival held last month on the Third Street Promenade, the count down begins until this year’s Buy Local Expo.
The Mirror spoke with the event’s co-chairs – Jennifer Taylor and Linda Greenberg Gross – about the importance of the Buy Local Expo on Sept. 21.
How did you become co-chair of the Buy Local Expo?
Linda and I have served as co-chairs since the Buy Local Expo festival’s commencement in 2010. I am also the chair of the broader Buy Local Santa Monica Steering Committee and so this event is very dear to my heart. It is our biggest Buy Local event of the year. As co-chairs, we help to oversee the event planning and also get to roll up our sleeves and help out on the day. We work closely with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce to ensure the event is a citywide celebration of our businesses and helps to support the strategic goals of the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign.
This year there are new subcommittees for the Buy Local Expo. Why are they important?
This is a new direction for us this year. We wanted to highlight the different types of businesses we have in our city, from retail to restaurants, theatre and comedy clubs to amusement parks, bike rentals and local services to hotels. These themes will be highlighted throughout Buy Local Week from Sept. 21-28. We’re currently working with our 600 plus active Buy Local businesses to develop fun events, local specials, and activities during Buy Local week around the themes.
What are some of the goals of the Buy Local initiative?
Buy Local Santa Monica was created by the Santa Monica business community and the City of Santa Monica to encourage local buying that strengthens our thriving community by raising awareness about the economic, environmental and community benefits of thinking local first.
The campaign has evolved from an awareness-building campaign to a very proactive campaign, encouraging our residents and employees to not only think local first, but also make a conscious effort to shop/eat/play local and keep their dollars in our community. And here’s why this is so important.
Santa Monica’s sales tax revenues are allocated to support essential local services including our schools, police, parks, and libraries.
Last year this contributed $47 million to the city’s General Fund (16 percent of the fund’s total), the largest single contributing source of revenue, followed by transit occupancy tax and property tax (14 percent each).
Over $7 million was allocated directly to our schools and resulted in on-going operations of summer school, the employment of 43 teachers and the funding for a Samohi college counselor. Buying locally truly does make a difference to our community.
We’re delighted that the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, one of our founding Buy Local partners, has grown their annual Business + Consumer Expo into the Buy Local Expo festival that we all know today.
How can businesses get involved?
If a business is located in Santa Monica, it’s automatically part of the Buy Local SM campaign. To activate membership and be added to the business directory, business owners can visit www.buylocalsm.com/signup.
The best part is that it’s free.
As the Executive Director of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, I look for opportunities to promote our schools and bring additional revenue into our schools. I was asked to co-chair the Buy Local Expo in 2010 and gladly accepted the position because of what “buying locally” means to our schools. Our schools receive more than $6 million annually as a result of the passage of Measures Y & YY, a half-percent transaction and use tax.
The other $6 million plus that is raised from Measures Y & YY goes to support important City services which we also greatly value. The Buy Local Expo is a wonderful way to recognize local businesses in the community that help us generate funds for our schools and City services and a remarkable forum to heighten awareness of the benefits of “buying locally.”
Why is the Buy Local Expo important?
Buy Local is so important because it brings much-needed revenue into our public schools! At a time when funding from the State has been on the decline, it is up to individual communities to be creative and find local solutions. Buy Local is such a solution. It is about changing people’s mindsets. Many don’t realize that the more we spend our dollars in the City of Santa Monica, the more benefits we get for public safety and schools.
Working with The Chamber, how did the Buy Local Expo partnership come about?
The Chamber’s mission is to promote business in the City. I honor their decision to celebrate local businesses and encourage the concept of “Buy Local.” Our community grows stronger when we make the choice to shop, eat and play in it. “Buy Local” is a win for all of us!
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