No, Tara Ingalls isn’t solving the employment crisis on her own.
But the owner of a Madison-based graphic design firm is proud of doubling her staff over the past year to eight employees.
“We’re generating a lot of business from all the new startups in town,” says Ingalls, owner of Tingalls Dzyn.
Ingalls thinks the recession caused a lot of companies to lay off their own in-house design people. Now that the economy is recovering, she says those companies are looking for help.
“We don’t just do website design,” she says. “We do websites that get found.”
Ingalls is one of the 625 member businesses of Dane Buy Local, a group working to raise awareness about the impact of spending money with a locally owned company.
The effort appears to be paying off. Dane Buy Local members report creating 467 jobs in 2011, an increase of 11 percent. Members also report paying out over $85 million in salaries last year and another $9.2 million in state and local taxes.
The survey counted 4,277 employees working at Dane Buy Local businesses. Those member companies also donated 178,330 volunteer hours and $2.4 million to nonprofits.
“Eight years ago, a group of devoted people got together and decided they wanted to make an impact,” says Dane Buy Local board member Kay-Tee Franke. “I think the results speak for themselves.”
Dane Buy Local is now counted as one of the five largest organizations of its kind in the country, says Rick Lenz, CEO of Motus Financial in Madison.
Lenz was an executive for Metavante Corp. when the banking data services company was sold in 2009 to Fidelity National Information Services. Faced with a choice of relocating out of state for his job or staying here, Lenz decided to remain in Fitchburg, where his children are heavily involved in youth soccer.
Now, Lenz is running his own two-person financial services firm -- and touting the buy local movement.
He noted that Wisconsin lost 6,100 private-sector jobs over the past year. “Well, it’s been a little different in the buy local community,” he says. “To have 11 percent job growth in this economy is just outstanding.”
The challenge remains in convincing consumers of the long-term value of buying locally. A recent study from a buy local group in Grand Rapids, Mich., found that for every $100 spent at a local store, $73 stays in the community. That compares to just $43 out of every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business.
“Buying local helps create jobs, it’s good for the economy and it builds stronger communities,” says Lenz, adding it was a local company, Ancora Coffee, which supplied hot beverages for a chilly youth soccer tournament last weekend in Fitchburg.
The Fitchburg Chamber of Commerce is doing its part this month to support local businesses. It is hosting a Business Blitz through May 10 where shoppers can enjoy special deals.