Column: Think before you buy

Kelly Parker

That’s because when businesses and residents spend their money in Clark County, they are not only supporting local business and helping to generate jobs, they are also bound to see more of that investment return to the community. Here’s how:

Every ten-dollar purchase made in Clark County generates 84 cents in tax revenue. The state of Washington uses some of that tax base for services and programs that benefit citizens. Nearly a quarter of that revenue is funneled back into our community and is used to fund basic services throughout our county and our cities. Many of Clark County’s public safety services and capital projects are paid with funds collected from sales taxes.

When consumers choose to shop outside Clark County to avoid sales tax, however, none of that revenue feeds back. A study conducted by the Columbia River Economic Development Council found residents in our state spending over $900 million in Oregon each year. The study estimated a loss of $15.5 million in tax revenue for Clark County. 

Lost tax revenue hampers our ability to fund our local programs and services. Without a doubt, lost sales hurt local businesses and, consequently, jobs. I would suspect that we all know of at least three people who are either out of work or underemployed. Imagine what an additional $900 million spent in Clark County would mean for them and their job prospects. Imagine what an additional $15.5 million in tax revenue could mean for our families and our communities.

In 2009, 11 chambers and business associations in Southwest Washington joined arms and worked together to create “Do We Get It,” a buy local awareness campaign. It was significant in bringing business organizations closer together to work collaboratively on a project benefitting our regional economy. Today,
Clark County has several projects communicating this crucial message.

One such effort is the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce’s Shop Local Business Showcase – a biannual tradeshow highlighting local businesses and organizations and the goods and services they offer. Our next Shop Local event is coming up this September and you’re all invited. More information will be released later this summer, so be sure to stay tuned for
the details. 

We encourage local businesses and consumers to join in the buy local effort by asking fellow friends and colleagues to consider three simple questions before making a purchase: Can we buy what we need in Clark County? Do we want to do business with our neighbors? Do we want to support our local community?

Shopping local is a powerful tool at our disposal that helps our local businesses, our employment opportunities and our communities thrive.

Kelly Parker is the president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the chamber, visit