Somerton seeks to keep shopping dollars at home
SOMERTON — City Hall hopes to keep more dollars in Somerton through a campaign to encourage residents to shop locally.
In a recent presentation to the Somerton City Council, city Economic Development director Shaun Cassidy said the campaign will make use of social media, the city's website, posters and public service announcements to publicize the benefits of local shopping, plus offer shoppers incentives to keep their dollars in the city.
The city is enlisting support from Local First Arizona, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that helps cities in the state strengthen their local economics through their merchants.
A study released by the organization found that of every $100 spent with local businesses, $73 remain in the local community.
The goal of Somerton's campaign, Cassidy told the council, is to convince residents that they ultimately will benefit from every dollar they choose to spend at home. But he noted that could be a challenge in a community where many residents are used to traveling to Yuma and other cities where they can find wider product selections.
“Yuma has tried a shop locally campaign, and San Luis has tried it,” he said, “but they know it's not easy. What's needed is a cultural change.”
Jose Yepez, a city councilman and longtime owner of an auto parts and auto repair business in Somerton, urged Cassidy to get the campaign off the ground as soon as possible.
Even if only 10 percent of what residents spend stays in Somerton, that will benefit the city, Yepez said.
“As business owners, we know it's hard, but we have to show the people what just 10 percent can do for us.”
Yepez added that City Hall must set an example by purchasing from vendors in the city whenever possible.
City Administrator Bill Lee said the city already does some of its purchasing with Somerton vendors, but that he will discuss with city department heads what other goods and services can be bought locally.