As we enter the holiday season, we see advertising campaigns from businesses, large and small, vying for our attention and money

As we enter the holiday season, we see advertising campaigns from businesses, large and small, vying for our attention and money. Of course we will see much more from the larger corporate businesses because they have the millions of dollars needed for advertising. Money spent on marketing to get your cash is phenomenal for these big-dollar-budgeted companies and they are most likely already working on next years' ad campaign now.

It only makes sense to compare the "savings" we are supposedly getting when we buy from large corporations outside our area. Several studies have shown that when we buy from independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms – which all continue to strengthen the economic base of our community. Of course nobody likes to pay taxes – but if we're going to pay them anyway, why not reinvest them in your child's school, library, or the local police and fire departments? Consider your tax paid locally as an investment back into your community as you make shopping plans this year.

Where we shop, where we eat and have fun, all of this makes our community, home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of the county. These distinctive shopping experiences make our tourism business benefit because when people are deciding on a vacation destination, they want to go "someplace" not just "anyplace" The uniqueness we share locally is the character of the area, and exempts us from the "Big Box" industrialized type businesses of many other cities/towns. It's important we encourage local prosperity. A growing body of economic research shows that in the long run, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are much more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve a one-of-a-kind business, distinctive character. Although there is more work to be done, we are fortunate for many things most areas are not.

Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know their customers. For the most part, businesses owned by people who live locally, are less likely to leave and are more invested in the community's future. Local businesses also require comparatively little infrastructure investment from the community and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores.

As we enter the 2013 Shop Local Campaign, along with the Holiday season, please do what you can to help those who are less fortunate with a warm meal or even a hug. This kind of community spirit is just another way we are unique – Let's keep the holiday spirit alive as we support each other this year and the years ahead.

Cleburne County Economic Developer Dara Samuel of Heber Springs writes her "Let's Talk" column on Fridays. She can be reached at 300 W. Main in Heber Springs and at 501-362-8402.