Q&A - November 28, 2015

These are exciting times for Okmulgee, Oklahoma. In recent months, our town has seen a flurry of new business startups. Traffic seems to be picking up all over town, real estate is moving again, and sales taxes have been up—all signs of economic prosperity.

Additionally, there has been a noticeable increase in the level of cooperation between community groups and organizations of late. There is a renewed sense of unity in this town and community pride. Okmulgee does not seem to be at odds with itself anymore. This town is experiencing a time of peace and prosperity—the perfect ingredients for growth!

It’s always been a curious thing to me, but when a new shop or restaurant first opens, there always seems to be crowds of people who show up during the first few days or weeks. I guess everyone wants to be among the first to try something new. But wouldn’t it be wonderful for business and for our community if this level of support was sustainable?

This week, I want to comment on a familiar subject, but one that is always good for us to remind ourselves about.

Q: Tell me why I should buy from shops here in town?

We must remember that the primary source of revenue for cities in Oklahoma is from the sales taxes off of the purchase of goods and services within their community. When sales occur in Okmulgee, the City of Okmulgee brings in revenue. In turn, cities spend their money on improvements within their purview and on services for their citizens. We want to see roads and utilities improved in town, but this requires money—this requires local sales transactions.

When you travel out of town to purchase something, you are supporting another town with your purchase. When you buy a product online, you are likewise avoiding local sales taxes. If you truly want to support your hometown, you need to make your purchases locally whenever you can.

The other thing to consider is the importance of helping local business owners remain in business. It’s hard enough to run a business, but without customers, no business will last very long. If we want to see more businesses in Okmulgee, we need to first support the businesses we already have with our patronage. Among the objectives of the Okmulgee Rising campaign is the desire to help existing businesses thrive and to attract new businesses to town. None of this will happen without you and I doing our part to support local business owners. These are individuals who have invested in Okmulgee and are just trying to make a living. The least we can do is to invest in them too.

Community pride begins with you and me. Economic growth is not someone else's job. Every dollar we spend in Okmulgee helps Okmulgee in some way. In the end, Okmulgee will either rise or fall depending on us—on our actions or inactions—our support or lack thereof. This holiday season, let’s remember to shop locally and keep Okmulgee Rising! Please continue to send your questions for me to osuit-president@okstate.edu.