Economics is not really interesting to many people. However, the impact that economics has on our daily lives is apparent every single day, especially in highly rural communities like those found in Cavalier County.
By Melissa Anderson
To break it down in simple terms, economics is the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth. A shareholder is someone who has a personal stake in the financial welfare of a company. What does this have to do with rural communities? A lot, actually.
“When you support local, you are encouraging a healthy local economy,” Langdon Area Chamber of Commerce Director Barb Mehlhoff said.
Langdon is the biggest hub in the Cavalier County economy, as it is the main area of businesses, most of which are locally owned by people who live right here in the county. These businesses produce goods for the consumption by other locals which also transfers money from one local person to another. This means when locally owned businesses thrive, the communities they are in thrive, making its customers, in essence, shareholders of that business.
Business owners in Langdon are looking to the future and wondering what it will take to make more of their neighbors shop at their business, especially when businesses have almost weekly opportunities to support local endeavors through charity or events. The ability to give is dependent on the business’s bottom line. By not supporting the local businesses, who want to donate to local charities and events, the question is raised, “How do those seeking donations expect businesses to support them if they don’t help support us?”
“If everyone shopped local, our local businesses could give more money back to our communities and employees. The higher our profits are, the more we can give back,” business owners said.
Between online retailers with free or fast shipping and couponing apps, business is not booming in the local economy sector. Patrons of local businesses may need to start considering if the money spent and saved elsewhere could have been better used locally by a business through either the expansion of business or employee raises.
“It’s not a competition to save money; it’s a competition to keep our town alive,” one business owner said.
Business owners throughout Langdon agreed, many having similar statements and sentiments of frustration with the lack of local shopping. By not shopping local, residents of the area under utilize the available resources. Eventually that under utilization could lead to the business closing its doors.
“I realize it’s sometimes more expensive to shop locally, but part of that is because it’s more expensive to get the product here because of shipping, etc. I don’t think local businesses are trying to “gouge” people with high prices, but we cannot get product for what WalMart can…end of story,” Sew On & Sew North owner Peggy Davis said.
Many local businesses were in agreement with Davis and pointed out that when customers/residents/neighbors make trips out of town to shop, they are not only taking money away from local businesses but also themselves.
The cost of driving to the location coupled with the loss of time to make the trip to a larger city is a double whammy. By considering the cost of travel such as necessary items for the trip like fuel and food, as well the time taken to travel to and from the city- suddenly that trip is not as cost effective as you might think.
“I just want the opportunity to sell our products. If someone finds an item in the big city I do wish they would come back to us and tell us what they found and the price to see if we can match it or even beat it. We just ask for a fair shot,” Schroeder Furniture owner Austin Lafrenz said.
Langdon Floral owner Tatiana Davis agreed, going further by saying, “Local business owners are your friends and neighbors, and we’re just trying to make a living. None of us on Main Street are trying to become millionaires; we just want to make a decent life for us and our families.”
Another aspect that shoppers may not consider when shopping out-of-town is the sales tax. Local businesses help maintain a strong tax base helping to maintain and improve public services such as schools, infrastructure, and emergency response services as well as community development projects. The City of Langdon currently has a 2 percent sales tax in place. Langdon City Auditor RoxAnne Hoffarth explained that the sales tax is broken up, and the funds are distributed to five different areas.
Of the total 2 percent, 1 percent is split equally between community development and infrastructures. The remaining 1 percent is split into thirds going to economic development, capital improvements and tax relief.
What do these earmarked categories do for Langdon? Hoffarth explained that these funds are considered special revenue funds. The recent water project and the street projects have used the capital improvements and infrastructure dollars.
“We have Phase I and Phase II paid for through these funds and grant money,” Hoffarth said.
The Cavalier County Job Development Authority manages the economic development category. These funds are used to assist business expansions. Many area businesses have utilized this category to better serve the community.
“Community development has been used to help with the renovation of CCMH and for the fire hall addition,” Hoffarth stated. “The tax relief dollars are what keep our activity center running; also, if we run short in another fund, then it’s usually pulled from tax relief.”
While fluctuations in tax revenue can be expected and varied in level, the City of Langdon had a $20,000 decrease in sales tax for the fiscal year of 2018, despite having new businesses open and others expand services. Over the past five years, the City of Langdon has averaged just under $450,000 in sales tax revenue.
“It’s impressive how much revenue our city generates in sales tax, but it also shows that we can increase that amount if more people checked what they could get locally before running out-of-town or ordering it online,” said one business owner.
“These funds help our city make the necessary improvements as needed; we depend on them to keep our city moving,” added Hoffarth.
Local business owners agreed, when residents go out-of-town, they are supporting that city’s sales tax, which reaps no benefit for your hometown. Shopping local provides more city sales tax that goes for services that support everyone in town. If you don’t want to see a ghost town, #shoplocal #shoplangdon.