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Support D.C.
(Published November 5, 2001)

As economic times worsen for local businesses and unemployment grows, city officials should heed their own promotional message by making sure they support D.C. businesses to the greatest extent possible when they spend tax dollars for the government’s own equipment and supplies.

Many state and local governments across the country have longstanding policies that encourage or require that they spend tax dollars at home unless no local supplier exists.

While budget-conscious procurement specialists may think they are saving taxpayers money when they shave a few dollars or cents off the unit cost of an item — such as a simple ream of copy paper — by buying it from a large company based elsewhere, their shortsightedness by failing to support locally based businesses with those purchases ultimately costs taxpayers far more.

Local businesses need customers’ dollars to survive and thrive and grow. As their sales rise, businesses often need to employ more workers. Increased income means a business pays more in taxes to support the local government. And every new job created by local businesses means one less person standing in a government unemployment line — quite possibly converting a government-aid recipient into a self-sufficient taxpayer.

Sadly, Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp. officials — the folks who get D.C. tax support to promote Washington’s image and lure visitors here — recently displayed the height of hypocrisy by deciding to place the city’s new $2.5-million promotional campaign in the hands of a Baltimore-based advertising agency. Their reasoning is hard to fathom, even considering that the ad agency operates a small D.C. office.

Maybe they misunderstood their own message about supporting D.C. businesses to aid the city’s economic recovery?

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator