Right now, as the stars dim on the current administration and a new sun peaks its head over the horizon, our economic future is being debated by elite corporatists and economists. They are debating the merits and pitfalls of ‘free trade’ or corporate globalization versus the current disregard for multilateral influence or imperial globalization.

They are evaluating whether more political capital should be invested in the IMF or the World Bank or the WTO. They weigh the consequences of trickle down economics and whether it helps any financial class lower than a hedge fund. For those of us that decided more than half way through that a degree in economics really wasn’t what we wanted to do, trying to understand it all can make your eyes glaze over.

Personally, I am no longer comfortable having my economic future decided for me but if the ‘dismal science’ has become so complex that the average person cannot understand it, how do we make good choices, particularly in an election year? Truthfully, I don’t know but I believe that focusing on our local economy and insulating ourselves as much as possible from global economics may be the best thing we can do.

Many communities around the country are actively doing just that by educating the public on the benefits of keeping dollars local. In Bellingham, Washington, for example, an organization formed called Sustainable Connections to promote and market a ‘buy local’ program to keep dollars in the community.

With over 600 member businesses, Sustainable Connections has implemented an aggressive marketing plan encouraging the purchase of locally grown food, goods and services. Restaurants participate by serving meals made with local produce and meat. Builders use only locally milled timber and other building materials whenever possible and renewable sustainable energy incentives produced over 9MW of power or 11% of the city’s power needs.

Food purchased in grocery stores travels an average of 1500 miles to get to us and only 3.5% of every dollar spent actually goes to the farmer. The other 96.5% goes to suppliers, processors, middlemen and marketers. When you purchase your food from a local farmer not only is the food fresher and thereby healthier but most, if not all your dollar goes to that farmer or rancher and in turn back into the local economy.

There is an organization forming locally which seeks to do the same thing as Sustainable Connections called CREAM or Coquille River Economic and Agricultural Movement. They are pulling together local farmers, ranchers and artisans to provide food, goods and services to their neighbors.

Keeping dollars local benefits the entire community and attitudes about spending and investing are changing across the country. Presently, I am working with a local fabricator to build my wind turbines and we expect to be able to provide living wage manufacturing jobs here on the South Coast. Additionally, if we can produce more of our power at the point of consumption we will export fewer dollars to investor owned utilities.

Thankfully, more and more investors are willing to forego the extra short term profits of manufacturing in foreign countries in favor of a long term investment toward a stronger local economy. Nevertheless, manufacturing goods for export in Coos County is complicated by shipping constraints and the lack of a railroad but just producing and selling locally can strengthen our economy.

We must stop exporting our dollars and start buying and investing locally, the alternative is to leave our economic future in the hands of ủber elite global economists and hedge fund managers.