We are proud to present our first Shop Local Intros publication, featuring 28 local businesses that provide goods and services to our local economy. I hope you will enjoy reading the stories behind these businesses. Each one has a unique story to tell and, unlike an advertisement, you can learn about the people behind the business and what makes the business special to our community.

I strongly encourage you to support these local businesses. Each one has invested in our community and I was truly inspired when hearing how passionate these business owners and leaders are about our community. They care and make our community a better place to live, shop and play. So, before deciding to purchase online or drive to Effingham, Champaign or Decatur for a shopping trip, give these businesses an opportunity to serve your needs. You won’t be disappointed!

Why is shopping local so important? Simple -- it keeps money in our community, it employs our friends, neighbors, sons and daughters. Plus, it makes our community a more fun and interesting place to live. An economic study shows that Coles County consumers spend $945 million dollars annually on consumer goods and services. Of that amount, $221 million dollars leave this county to be spent elsewhere. That’s 23% or almost 1 in every 4 dollars!

When we choose to spend outside of our community, it results in less local sales tax to support our schools, streets and infrastructure, police and fire protection. As the convenience of Internet shopping entices us to spend elsewhere, local businesses need to cut back, perhaps lay off an employee or two, reduce their support for a local ball team or youth program. How much does Amazon.com give back to our community? How many of our friends and neighbors do they employ locally? Absolutely zero.

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By shopping local, we can build a vibrant and prospering community. If each adult in Coles County committed to spending as little as $75 locally on Christmas shopping, that would be over $3.2 million dollars staying here and benefiting our community. Perhaps our local businesses would hire another one of our friends and neighbors, donate more to local charities, and expand their business into bigger storefronts on our main streets. That would be a better community for all of us.

Enjoy reading about these businesses that care. And support them by shopping local!

Craig Rogers, JG-TC Publisher

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