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"Think Local First" Campaign Pushes To Keep Sales Tax Revenue In Local Communities

July 30, 2013 1:33 p.m.

GUESTS:

Debra Rosen, President and CEO, San Diego North Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Stevens, Owner, Replica Printing

Related Story: "Think Local First" Campaign Pushes To Keep Sales Tax Revenue In Local Communities

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: One way to boost revenue for the cities in San Diego is to get residents and businesses to spend their dollars locally. That's the idea behind "think local first" the push promoted by a number of chambers of commerce and supported by a group of San Diego politicians also encourages people to hire and contract services locally to keep sales tax revenues in San Diego County. I'd like to welcome my guests, Debra Rosen is president and CEO of San Diego north Chamber of Commerce. Welcome to the program.

ROSEN: Thank you for have asking us.

CAVANAUGH: And business owner Ryan Stevens is here, he runs replica printing in two locations, one in San Diego and Poway. Welcome to the show.

STEVENS: Thank you for having me.

CAVANAUGH: Debra, are don't San Diegans typically buy locally? You go to the grocery store, the mall, the drug stores. Where else is our money going?

ROSEN: Well, you'll find that the typical consumer will look and shop price. And I think that quality has a piece of it, but people look price first. And in purchasing, a lot of times people are using the internet. They're going online. And they forget that we have these local resources in the region. And it does come down to price and value. I think it's critical that consumers take and look for the product they're looking for locally first. For example the San Diego north Chamber of Commerce was looking for a sound system. We knew we could go online and get a great price. So we found what we wanted, we had a $2,500 budget but we said, wait, we need to buy it locally. So we printed out the item, are the whole package, took it over to carver guitar and sound said this is what we want, this is our budget, can you come up with something that's comparable? Not only did they, they gave us a better system, but we had the service to help us learn how to use it afterwards. And we kept that $2,500 in other region with sales tax, and it contributes to job growth.

CAVANAUGH: It sounds as if you're talking about locally owned and operated stores. So the shop local would not apply to big box stores; is that right?

ROSEN: Not necessarily. For example I'm shop at the Poway Costco because that's where I live because I know that a percentage of my sales tax revenue is going to go right back into my community. I just found recently a year ago that 1% of everything that we purchase in Poway goes back into the community. For example, I now buy all my cars in Poway. I want that money going back, being reinvested into the community in which I live.

CAVANAUGH: Who is involved in this initiative?

ROSEN: It's a collaborative. And right now, it's made up of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, Mira Mesa Chamber of Commerce,s are San Diego north Chamber of Commerce, Rancho PeÒasquitos community group, the San Diego regional economic development corporation, and next week we're meeting with a number of business organizations to get them on board as collaborators. This initiative is being prison driven by San Diego north chamber, but we're not the lead dog. We have made this a true collaborative. We are all equal, and it's an initiative that's good for the radio region, and it really does put more tax dollars, jobs, and revenues back into our region and communities.

CAVANAUGH: That's an important point because you're not just talking about people shopping in a certain place. You're talking about people hiring locally as well.

ROSEN: Exactly. It's really important to realize that when you hire locally, those wages will be reinvested back into the community. So for example, the City of San Diego just hired a company out of Chicago to move the new library from one location to another. They also -- that company recruited out of Florida. And I remember reading something about they were told that you'll get to enjoy a week or two in beautiful, sunny San Diego. Well, those paychecks are going to go to those students to be spent probably in Florida, and the jobs of those movers are paychecks that are going to be spent maybe in Chicago. If San Diego would have hired a company locally that would have brought in our local college student, all those wages would have been reinvested back into the community. And the City of San Diego wouldn't have had to pay for all the hotel rooms to bring that company in. So it's jobs and wages. Of

CAVANAUGH: One more question for you before I move over to Ryan. And that is if you're able to talk about jobs and sales tax coming back into the cities, do you have any calculation on how much the cities would actually get if indeed this initiative were to succeed?

ROSEN: Actually I do. And there's one other thing I want to bring up. If every resident in the city of Poway spent $2,000 each, more in the city of Poway instead of outside, that would generate an additional $900,000 in sales tax revenue that would go to the city and would be used for infrastructure, police, and fire. Street repairs. So that's if every resident just took and was consciously aware of spending more locally. The second thing I want to bring up is as a resident of Poway, we pay property taxes. And I've been paying them for years. But I never really questioned where they went. Well, I realize now that a large portion of our property taxes are sent to the school districts and to the community colleges. When I look at that, I have to ask myself why are they not reinvesting our property tax funds that they're getting back into our communities? So when we did a research and impact report and research on the school districts, we found that up to 50% of their whole budget comes from property taxes. However, their expenditures are over $15,000 will exceed and be up to 70% of their entire budget. Well, as a property taxpayer, and a homeowner, that, I'm challenged by that.

CAVANAUGH: Right. You mean they don't requisition supplies that come from the community?

ROSEN: We don't know how they're spending their money. We just know that they're spending up to 70% in some of the districts outside of the region, outside of San Diego County. And that's not something and and reinvesting the money we're paying in our property taxes. And I've got a challenge with that.

CAVANAUGH: That's interesting. Let me get to Ryan for a second. As a business owner, why have you gotten on this band wagon?

STEVENS: Well, it makes a lot of sense. I grew up in San Diego, I live in Scripps ranch, and seeing the impact of where the dollars are going, where the jobs are going, keeping business local, increasing commerce in and around San Diego is important to me.

CAVANAUGH: Now, when it comes to what you buy, have you been thinking about how you can get your resources perhaps more locally within the county in some way?

STEVENS: Oh, completely. When Deborah came to me a couple months ago and mentioned this campaign, it made me rethink my buying practices, and challenge me and rethink my vendors and where they're coming from. And kind of like what Deborah said earlier, going to them and saying I'd like to give you the opportunity first. And that's what we should all codo as business owners in San Diego, give local businesses an opportunity first to either match the price or come close. And if it is close, we have the conscious decision to say we can either spend a little bit more and know this money is going to be going back into our community, or if it's significantly more, than we know where the money is going.

CAVANAUGH: Business notoriously, businesses are competitive, and the bottom line is a real thing. So it seems like there's some altruism mixed in with your budgeting. Do you expect other businesses to follow suit with this?

STEVENS: I think so. I hope so. I know other business owners I've talked to are doing the same thing. And if it's not a huge difference, and I think a lot of business owners want to retain business here, and they will entertain the option to match prices or come close to knowing that you're going to get the product sooner. It's not going to be shipped. You'll be able to individual that client or customer and have that relationship rather than just a purchase that's online or outside of San Diego County.

CAVANAUGH: Deborah Rosen, I cut you off in the middle of a challenge. &%F0

ROSEN: Well, the challenge that I have is for all property owners to take a look at your property taxes, look at the statement, and look at how much is going back to the schools, and contact the superintendent of the schools and ask them to reinvest that money back into our community. There should be more jobs, more sales tax revenues, and more vibrant communities. Last week we had comcon here, and we heard everybody say, wow, this is great for the region. It brings millions of dollars to the region. It's once a year, and we're always at risk of losing it. We don't want to, but there is that risk. Why not go back to a grassroots effort all across the county and everybody start spending more locally? Businesses, community, government, and then we build it from a holistic approach, all those millions of sales tax revenues and jobs and when Comic-Con does come, that's just icing on the cake.

CAVANAUGH: Deborah, many environmentalists have been advocating buying locally because it takes trucks off the road, it lowers the carbon footprint, etc, do you advocate for those benefits as well?

ROSEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think today everybody is more aware of a cleaner environment and a cleaner community. And shipping is another thing. Time. It takes you time to get product. And if you can buy it locally, you are helping the environment and getting your product quicker.

CAVANAUGH: You say this is -- this is an initiative. It isn't supported by any sort of governmental agency, is it?

ROSEN: It's all grassroots. But we do have 18 electeds that have come on board with us, from congressmen to assembly members, all of our local City Council and individual cities. -- it's a common goal for everybody to look at what we're doing and keep the services local.

CAVANAUGH: Is this all north county?

ROSEN: No, actually the San Diego regional EDC came on board as a partner. And I spoke to Jerry Sanders about it, and we're going to be talking about the San Diego chamber coming on board. And art Madrid, the La Mesa mayor, sent in a letter saying he wanted to support the initiative too. So we started it up in North County, but we just launched the initiative Friday with a press conference, and this morning to our members. So next week we're going to meet with all of our coastal organizations and bring them on board.

CAVANAUGH: If someone would like to get involved in this initiative, what can they do?

ROSEN: If you're a business, you can be a part of the initiative free of cost. Go to thinklocalfirstSD.com, and you can list your business as a resource at absolutely no cost to you.

CAVANAUGH: All right then.


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