Buying local could add big boost to Buffalo economy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The buy and shop local initiative is taking off all over the country including right here in Western New York.

The Lexington Co-op in the Elmwood Village is feeling the positive impacts from people getting on board with the initiative. They now have nearly 11,000 members paying to shop at the store.  They work with goods and service producers within a 250 to 300 mile radius around the city, offering local produce, honey, and meats to the community.

“Roughly $.52 of every dollar stays local, as far as wages, payment to local vendors, all those sorts of things,” says Mike Runco, the Merchandising Manager at the co-op. “As long as we exist and remain strong, it allows access for these local products and works as an engine for out local economy.”

Runco says in his four years at the co-op, he has seen an increase in interest for buying local.

“You see a spirit and energy behind starting up on your own, looking at ways to help your community because that’s where our opportunity to help our community to grow is at,” says Runco.

More people shopping at locally owned stores can have an immense impact on the area.

The latest numbers show our region imports more than $68 billion in good annually. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership crunched numbers, finding if people bought just 1% more from local goods and service providers, like the co-op, around $700 million would stay right here in the local economy.

“That’s a shocking statistic,” says Megan Steitz. “I feel like people don’t take the time to think about the little thing that their actions could make a difference for.”

“It’s easier than you think but it takes some time to look for local products,” says Drew Cerza, the founder for the Buffalo Wing Festival who works with businesses to keep goods in the area.

He says he believes supporting local stores is supporting your friends, family, and neighbors and the local economy.

“There’s a changing dynamic in Buffalo,” says Cerza. “Everyone is thinking we’re moving forward and we are. It’s all about economics. If you vote with your wallet that ‘I’m going to vote local’, I think we can do it.”

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