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Columbia County Commission Nixes Buy Local Reinvest Day Proclamation

Communities all over the country are supporting buy local campaigns. Last night, Ms.Val Leitner, the president of Blue Oven Kitchens, a nonprofit kitchen incubator serving the 10 county area of north-central Florida, addressed the Columbia County Commission and asked them to support a Buy Local campaign with a Re-Invest Day proclamation. She was turned down cold.

Ms. Leitner began her presentation

I am here tonight to talk about the buy local north-central Florida campaign. We are doing this in cooperation with Slow Food Gainesville. Ms. Lietner explained that they began doing this because many businesses want to be labeled as local and independent. They thought that in this economy it would help them to drive traffic through their doors, so that people would understand that when they purchase something at a store, they are directly shaping their community with their dollars.

Ms. Lietner explained, "After the project got off the ground other businesses began approaching us that were not food related and asked us to expand the project."

"We now have a campaign for all locally owned and independently owned businesses in north-central Florida. Businesses have to be privately owned - they cannot be publicly traded. 51% of the ownership or more has to reside within the 10 county area of north-central Florida and they can't be a part of a franchise system."

Blue Oven Kitchens and Slow Food Gainesville, two non profits, have teamed up to create the Buy Local North Central Florida campaign for locally and independently-owned businesses in the 10-county area including Alachua, Marion, Gilchrist, Levy, Union, Columbia, Suwannee, Putnam, Bradford, and Clay. The campaign launches April 12, 2011 with Reinvest Day.

Ms. Leitner explained this maximizes what is known as the local multiplier effect. "This keeps local dollars recirculating within the community and staying in the community, rather than being sent someplace else."

This is something the Columbia County Commission has spoken about many times.

Ms. Leitner: The buy local campaign is about educating the community about local and independent businesses and how when the community spends money, it is building and shaping the community with its dollars.

While there are different levels of business participation, all businesses that participate in the program are listed on the Buy Local website and also get to use the buy local campaign logo.

Ms. Leitner: "I am here today to ask the commission to please support the proclamation declaring April 12, Re-Invest Day. April 12 is the official launch of the Buy Local Campaign."

Deaf ears and totally confused

Commissioner DuPree explained to Ms. Leitner that he had "pulled up some stuff" on the Internet and read it. He told Ms. Leitner that he had read about Slow Food Gainesville, quoting and commenting about what he had read.

Time and time again, Com DuPree and the Board just don't get it.

He said, "Everyday life can be achieved by slowin down and respectin traditions of the table, celebratin diversity of earth's bounty in our community... I had visions of long haired people with weird looking cigarettes."

Chairman DuPree explained they he had contacted the Chamber of Commerce. "They also are lookin to do a program along the same lines as what's bein proposed here." Com DuPree explained that he was troubled that the revenue from their campaign "would be used to support their initiatives and their organizations, which are located in Gainesville."

Com DuPree continued, "I'm not going to vote for proclamation, where they take our proclamation and go to local businesses in order to raise revenue for what they are doin."

"I also feel like the Chamber of Commerce is goin to take on the same thing. This is bein competition for them. All of them dollars must stay in this community." he said.

Commissioner Williams made a motion to deny the proclamation. Commissioner Bailey seconded the motion. The motion to deny passed unanimously.

Somebody understood

As Ms. Leitner was leaving the meeting she was approached by Chamber of Commerce board member, Attorney Josh Crapps, who works with the legendary Herbert Darby. Mr. Crapps asked for Ms. Leitners information, telling her that he felt the Chamber would like to work with her organization and offered her an invitation to contact the Chamber.

Ms. Lietner told the Observer, "All of the money goes to support the Buy Local initiative throughout the ten county area, not only Gainsville."

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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