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Across New England, shifting our spending to locally owned and independent businesses can add up to thousands of new jobs and billions in new economic activity, all without raising taxes or spending an extra dime. There are so many ways to do this! We have the power to stabilize and transform our economy, today, with just a few small changes from each of us.

*Keep an eye out for the Buy Local window decal on storefront windows to find our local independent business members.

Shift your Finances

What’s the impact of your money? Do you know what your investments are doing right now?  The closer we keep our money to home, the better we know what it’s doing in the world. It’s easy to get started. First, move your savings and checking to a local bank or credit union—learn about the benefits here. Home mortgages also can be an incredible opportunity to shift money into our neighborhoods—especially when we choose banks that lend based on deposits, not on securities. Then, assess your asset management, retirement funds, estates, trusts, and other investment opportunities. Could you use a self-directed IRA to shift some of your 401K into a local municipal bond working with local businesses?

Shift your Home and Property purchases

Good customer service, quality products, fair prices, and trusted community relationships are imperative when it comes to choosing who is going to help you improve your home and property. Whether you’re choosing more sustainable energy services, furnishing your home, or turning your lawn into an edible playground, the best companies to work with are those who are invested in our community’s future, too.

Shift your Office and Professional Services

Whether employees or owners, our members put in an effort to “think local first” with their business actions. This relationship-based collaborative approach makes the Seacoast business community diverse and sustainable, with products and services that are comprehensive, place-relevant, and innovative. Price is rarely an issue, especially when we account for customer service, accessibility and quality. Every local purchase also has the added bonus of improving our social and environmental bottom line.

Shift for Health and Wellness

A recent study (Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society) found that people who live in communities where small, locally owned businesses are the norm are healthier than those who live in places where large corporations predominate. Still other research has linked the regional market share of large retail chains with higher rates of poverty, infant mortality, and crime. Healthy people come from healthy policies, healthy places, and healthy behaviors. We’re fortunate on the Seacoast to have so many great resources to get outdoors, stay active, and enjoy our leisure time with a healthy lifestyle.

Shift to Independent Media

Deciding between local independents and “big-box” media is yet another place where your time and money make a difference. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the headlines we read, watch, click and hear come from the same six sources. Household names like ESPN, Huffington Post or Fox have masked a massive consolidation in traditional and digital media over the past two decades. Today, just a handful of corporations determine what is newsworthy, whose voices matter, and what information we need to make informed decisions about our lives, our community and our planet. Every independent media consumer, advertiser, member and subscriber helps to cultivate a diverse, lively, informed and robust news and information landscape that is more fully accountable to us and a local, living economy.

Shift your Transportation

Let’s shift away from the assumption that all trips begin with getting behind the wheel. Maybe a few more trips could include traveling by foot, bike, bus or train? We’re increasingly seeing the benefits of this thinking. Bike- and pedestrian-friendly downtowns are good for local businesses, the environment and our well-being. On the Seacoast, we’re also lucky to have dozens of buses and trolleys connecting so many of our communities with reliable public transit. COAST has expanded its regional routes to include express service to the Shipyard and Pease. Got a plane to catch, or maybe a business trip to Boston or the Big Apple? You can sit back and relax on a C&J bus or the Amtrak Downeaster. Parking and carpool options at the intermodal transportation centers is easy and free. Trying new ways to shift your transportation could be the start of a whole new greener, healthier and more affordable routine. Get some more inspiration at www.commutegreennh.org.

Shift your Travel, Vacations and Fun

Having family and friends visit? Show them the best of our unique towns and cool communities. Offer visitors the option of staying at local lodging and and shopping and dining downtown. The locally owned and independent tourism and travel industry is a significant contributor to our economy—many local jobs, sales and services depend on keeping our small business community vibrant and unique. On the Seacoast we have an incredible and eclectic restaurant, music and arts scene. Keeping our main streets bustling means there is more here for us to discover as well.

Shift your Food and Drink

The number of small farms is on the rise, the number of farmers’ markets has grown to almost 8,000 nationwide, and the demand for local food is growing. This is one of the easiest and most fun ways to start shifting your budget—at any level you’re able—while becoming more connected to your community.

Shift your Arts and Culture

In the last few years, the Seacoast has come of age. We’ve gone from a grassroots, homegrown scene to a national destination for culture. Our towns are teeming with talent, especially in performing arts, visual arts, and cultural-historical resources. Not only are the arts good for our soul, they are good for our local economy. A recent Americans for the Arts survey reported that more than $43 million goes into the local economy as a direct result of this arts and culture activity. That number is actually much higher, because the $43 million figure is generated only from the Portsmouth area, and only from those who participated in the survey. Together, our arts and culture non-profits helped make us relatively resistant to the recession while being major contributors to a local, living economy.

Shift Your Shopping for the Holidays

Let’s make choices that strengthen our local economy, expand employment, nurture a sense of community and provide a more relaxed, fun and rewarding buying experience. The Shift Your Shopping holiday campaign represents more than 40,000 businesses across the U.S. and Canada in communities like ours.The holiday season provides a unique opportunity to make an impact on our local economy. Did you know retailers typically make more than 20 percent of their income during the holiday season? When you’re spending money on gifts and festivities, think local first and make your purchases count.