Our state, like most of the world, is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic both from a health perspective and an economic one. Many small businesses in particular have been devastated by closures, supply chain issues, and ongoing employment challenges. With so many global events affecting us, it can feel like there isn’t much that is within our control. What can the average person do to help revitalize our state’s economy?

Surprisingly, there are several ways to make a difference. Begin by taking stock in where your money is going. Typically we do this to see how we can save money, which is always a good exercise, but in this case, think about what entities are benefitting most from your spending. Are you shopping online or in person? Are you choosing independent stores and restaurants or national chains? Is your grocery cart filled with local produce and Michigan-made items? If each Michigan household shifted just $10 of its weekly spending to Michigan-made products, that would interject about $1.9 billion dollars into our economy within a year, so what will you shift?

If you own a business, such analysis is also a useful activity. Think about where your website is hosted. What company provides you with insurance? What kinds of refreshments are in your break room or served to customers? Are the products you sell made in Michigan, and if not, could they be? Where do you host meetings or take clients to entertain them? There are over 700,000 small businesses in Michigan. If each moved just $500 in monthly spending to other Michigan businesses, collectively that would be a $5.6 billion boost to our economy annually.

Once you’ve taken stock, then you’ll have a better idea in which ways you can personally make the most impact. Here are 10 suggestions to get you started.

  1. Choose three products you buy that are made out of state and find, buy, and try a local alternative.
  2. Make a point of going into all the independent shops in your neighborhood, town, or a nearby city, and try to buy something in each, no matter how small. It might help to use this as an opportunity to get a jumpstart on holiday gifts.
  3. Brag about the Michigan-made products, and local businesses you love, on social media. You may not be an “influencer” by the media’s standards, but make no mistake, you definitely do have influence. Friends, family, and even total strangers, if you use a hashtag, may be inspired to make a similar purchase by a comment or picture that you post. Use #buyMInow and/or #MImade to reach a motivated audience. Also, tag the business you’re supporting so they can feel the love. You can even become an official Buy Michigan Now social media ambassador. We love those!
  4. Make a list of 5 local restaurants you’ve always wanted to go to and put dates on the calendar to order a carryout, take the family, or meet up with friends. While there, look at their beverage list and if you don’t see enough Michigan-made beer, cider, wine and spirits, ask them to carry more. The same goes for stores. Together we can create demand if we all speak up.
  5. If you’re planning a home improvement project, make sure you’re getting quotes from Michigan-based businesses. Ask where they get their materials. Ask if any of the materials are made in Michigan. Factor those answers into your decision.
  6. Attend an event or farmers market with local vendors and spend some money with them. There are A LOT of small businesses that make the bulk of their money through events, most of which have been cancelled for at least one year, if not two. Go to markets and fests to have fun, and also be intentional about leaving some money behind at a food truck, maker, or other small business.
  7. Add some home state spirit to your wardrobe. It may be difficult to find apparel that is entirely made here, but there are plenty of hoodies, hats, and tees that are designed and printed here. Get something new for yourself and for someone else in your life from companies like Livnfresh, Tee See Tee, High Five Threads, Detroit Shirt Company, Ink Detroit, or many more. You can even design your own piece or place a bulk order for your team or business with Ann Arbor Tees.
  8. Small businesses are very dependent upon reviews to help them gain new customers. If you have more time to spare than money, write a glowing review for 5-10 of your favorite local businesses.
  9. Be patient. Many businesses are reinventing themselves, and most are struggling to hire and train staff. Resist the temptation to formulate and express your entire opinion about them if you have a less than stellar experience during these tough times.
  10. Join Buy Michigan Now if you own a business. There are lots of incredible benefits, PLUS your membership fee helps us continue to inspire people around the state to keep more dollars close to home–to the benefit of ALL Michigan businesses. From now until August 30, 2021, you can save 50% on any membership level using the code: #BuyMIweek. If you don’t own a business then visit https://buymichigannow.com often to search our directory and read about amazing companies doing incredible things. When you see a story you love, share it on your social media.

There IS something we can each do to help get this economy going again. Be active and engaged. Trust me, it’s a lot better feeling than sitting around wishing things would get better. Together we can revitalize our economy one product, one purchase, one person at a time.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.