Buying Local: Tools for Forward Thinking Institutions

Social Economy Buying Local Sauder S3i continues its partnership with the Columbia Institute and LOCO BC with a new resource guide that offers innovative tools for economic development. Buying Local: Tools for Forward Thinking Institutions details specific policies and practices for economic development through local purchasing. Earlier this year, the three organizations released a study detailing the economic impact of local purchasing – the first study of its kind in Canada. Using office supply procurement in B.C. as an example, the study measured a 77%-100% economic advantage for B.C. from buying local, and an 80%-100% increase in jobs per million dollars spent. That study, The Power of Purchasing, showed the value that local companies have to the economy through the lens of office supplies. Now Buying Local provides some tools for institutions to harness that benefit and become economic change agents.

There are many opportunities for organizations to benefit themselves, as well as the economies that sustain them, by making minor adjustments to the way that they purchase goods and services. This report outlines strategies and paths that policy-makers, sustainability managers, procurement professionals and others involved in institutional purchasing decisions can pursue to realize this potential.

There is a growing movement to support local economies, and various approaches are being taken in different places. Great benefits come from strong, resilient local economies, and many opportunities exist to take small steps that can majorly benefit our public institutions, businesses and communities. If purchasers are ready to take on leadership roles, the tools and solutions detailed here are effective ways to expand local purchasing and strengthen our communities.

Part I outlines the argument for local procurement. It demonstrates the power that institutional procurement has over the economy and highlights opportunities for change by examining the current landscape in Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. It details how local economic impacts fit within the definition of value when attempting to achieve best value in procurement.

Part II and Part II identify tools that can be used by institutions and policy-makers to increase local procurement. They outline a number of challenges, and detail solutions that are currently being used. Examples of the tools have been included along with references to material for further research.

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