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GUEST COLUMN: Need to shop local has never been more critical

'This is our home, and by supporting one another, especially in trying times, we ensure its prosperity and resilience for generations to come,' says chamber CEO

As CEO of the Central York Chamber of Commerce, I've witnessed firsthand the resilience, creativity and dedication of our business community in Newmarket and East Gwillimbury. These businesses form the backbone of our local economy, contributing not just to our financial health but to the social and cultural fabric of our community. However, as we navigate these challenging times, the importance of supporting local businesses has never been more critical.

The global events of the past few years have brought unprecedented challenges to our doorstep. From a pandemic to economic downturns, our community has faced its share of trials. Yet, through it all, the spirit of Newmarket and East Gwillimbury has shone brightly, with local businesses adapting in remarkable ways.

Restaurants pivoted to offering takeout and delivery services, retailers moved online, and service providers found innovative ways to meet their clients' needs safely. These adaptations were not just about survival; they were a testament to the resilience and innovation inherent in our local business community.

Supporting local businesses is essential for several reasons, not least of which is the direct impact it has on our economy. When we spend our money at local establishments, those funds circulate within our community several times over, a phenomenon known as the multiplier effect. This circulation helps to create more jobs, fund more services, and contribute to the overall vibrancy and health of our local economy.

Moreover, local businesses are a crucial component of our community's identity. They provide unique products and services that reflect the character and needs of Newmarket and East Gwillimbury, contributing to a diverse and dynamic local culture. From the quaint cafes that line our streets to the family-run shops that have served generations, these businesses add a level of personalization and charm that online retailers simply cannot replicate.

In these challenging times, the support we offer to our local businesses can make a significant difference in their ability to weather the storm. For some, it could mean the difference between closing doors and thriving into the future.

It's also worth noting many local businesses are among the most generous supporters of community projects, schools and nonprofits. By supporting them, we're enabling these contributions to continue, further strengthening the fabric of our community.

However, recognizing the importance of supporting local is just the first step. We must also act. I encourage each member of our community to consciously choose local options whenever possible. Whether it's opting for a coffee from a local café, purchasing gifts from local artisans, or choosing local service providers, these choices add up to significant support for our local economy.

The Central York Chamber of Commerce is committed to facilitating this support through initiatives aimed at boosting the visibility and accessibility of local businesses. We're working on developing platforms that make it easier for residents to discover and engage with local businesses, as well as advocating for policies that support the growth and sustainability of the local business ecosystem.

In addition, we're focusing on fostering a spirit of collaboration among businesses, recognizing that we are stronger together. By sharing resources, knowledge and networks, our local businesses can enhance their resilience and innovation, further contributing to the health and vitality of our community.

As we look to the future, it's clear that the road ahead will have its share of obstacles. Yet, it's also filled with opportunity. By rallying behind our local businesses, we're investing in the long-term prosperity and well-being of Newmarket and East Gwillimbury.

We're not just preserving jobs and keeping doors open; we're nurturing a vibrant, diverse, and resilient community that stands strong, no matter what challenges come our way.

I urge every resident, business and stakeholder in Newmarket and East Gwillimbury to join in this crucial effort. By supporting local, we're doing more than just making purchases; we're making a statement about the kind of community we want to be. Together, let's commit to fostering an environment where local businesses can thrive, and in turn, continue to enrich the quality of life for us all.

The path forward may be challenging, but it is also hopeful. With each step we take in support of our local businesses, we're weaving a stronger, more interconnected community fabric. This is our home, and by supporting one another, especially in trying times, we ensure its prosperity and resilience for generations to come. Let's continue to stand together, support local, and build a brighter future for Newmarket and East Gwillimbury.

Chris Emanuel is the CEO of York Central Chamber, serving businesses in Newmarket and East Gwillimbury.