Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will launch a new national coalition of municipal officials Tuesday on Capitol Hill that will lead a “Buy Local, Buy American” campaign to drive economic growth and job creation in cities across America.
The new coalition – “Mayors for America” – aims to direct a greater proportion of local government and consumer spending to local businesses that employ local citizens, use local suppliers and keep more of their profits in the community. The coalition will also encourage participating communities to “Buy American” – procuring American-made products whenever possible to support domestic industries, particularly manufacturing, and to protect American jobs.
“Our goal is to connect cities across America in a local purchasing network that will keep local dollars local whenever possible,” Mayor Bernero said. “Numerous studies have proven that a modest increase in local purchasing can translate into millions in new income and thousands of new jobs for local residents.”
Mayor Bernero is the founder of the national Mayors Automotive Coalition (MAC) and played a prominent role in the federal automotive rescue as a national spokesman for General Motors and manufacturing communities that lost thousands of jobs during the auto industry restructuring. Bernero was a regular guest on Fox, CNN and MSNBC as he took the fight for the survival of the auto industry and the impact of free trade policies on domestic manufacturing to a national audience.
Bernero’s Mayors for America campaign invites municipal leaders across the nation to pledge that they will enact “Buy Local, Buy American” policies that commit their local government to spending a greater percentage of their annual outlays for goods and services within their own community. If they cannot obtain a specific product or service locally or within their home state, mayors will be able to search a national purchasing network to find goods and services offered by other participating communities.
“Our goal is to leverage the vast purchasing power of local governments across America to help each other create a stronger economic foundation built on the power of local purchasing,” said Bernero. “Our leadership in this area will also encourage our citizens to use the power of their own pocketbooks to buy local and buy American.”
Numerous studies have demonstrated the power of local purchasing to strengthen local economies. A 2011 analysis of local purchasing in Portland, Maine found that every $100 spent at locally-owned businesses contributes an additional $58 to the Portland economy. By comparison, $100 spent at a representative national chain store in Portland yields just $33 in local economic impact. A 2008 study conducted in the West Michigan region found that a modest change in consumer behavior - a mere 10 percent shift in market share to independent businesses from chain stores - would result in 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in wages, and a $137 million economic impact to the area.
Mayors for America is an initiative of the Mayors Automotive Coalition (MAC), a national group of municipal leaders formed by Mayor Bernero in 2008 to advocate for domestic manufacturing and federal support for the automotive industry and communities affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs. The launch of the Mayors for America campaign is being held in conjunction with tomorrow’s “Moving America Forward Summit” sponsored by MAC in the nation’s capital. The summit is designed to bring the attention of the federal government, Congress, and the nation to the importance of promoting domestic manufacturing, investing in and revitalizing manufacturing communities, and buying American to support communities throughout the country.