“Evolution” has become a buzzword in recent years…. But, “Local Evolution”, what are we talking about? Just a few short years ago, neighborhoods in big cities had their own local businesses–grocery stores, butchers, hardware stores, bookstores, and many other local merchants who not only worked in the neighborhoods but also lived there. There were candy stores and ice cream parlors where children felt comfortable going and being safe….
TIme brought change, and the center city moved to the suburbs, neighborhoods shifted, big box stores and grocery stores became “national” and fashionable. Neighborhoods blended into each other, and everyone went to the shopping centers which eventually became the malls.
There is a trend in many parts of the country that is shifting folks back to neighborhoods and small towns, and along with it back to local merchants. One area that has witnessed this is the Cleveland area of Northeast Ohio, including a multi-county area where this shift is occurring, especially in the local food industry. Now it is popular and practical to have community gardens, which among many things bring fresh, healthy food to neighborhoods underserved by today’s grocery stores. From the community gardens, there are now farm markets in local communities as well as local restaurants which are served by the produce of the local community gardens. It has been an amazing transition!
In addition, local merchants are now “popping up” in Northeast Ohio. Many of these are founded by new entrepreneurs who were casualties of the downturn that began in 2008. Oftentimes the entrepreneurs are living near where they work.
So, local evolution is taking hold–we are evolving “back” to what used to be–local food in backyard and community gardens, local buying to support our friends and neighbors who have been brave enough to weather the economic storm to begin a needed local business. It is a great evolution to witness.
More than that, however, local investing is beginning to take on its own voice. There used to be local stock exchanges all over the country, including one in Cleveland, Ohio. It may be a vision today, but in the future, there once again could be a local stock exchange in Ohio. It would be a place where local companies, in an effort to raise capital, would be able to allow residents of Ohio to become shareholders. An interesting prospect, indeed. It just follows, if our dollars are supporting local food efforts and local entrepreneurial efforts, eventually, our dollars could support local companies just as our dollars have supported major corporations over the years.
Is this an evolution? Indeed it is; it is local evolution, and it is just beginning!