The “buy local” movement gets a lot of attention for efforts to get communities to shop locally and buy local food, but buying local can also extend to industry. That’s the message of the second annual Buy Pittsburgh First Expo.
“There is an economic benefit to purchasing local,” said Chantel Goldstrohm, president of Buy Pittsburgh First. “When we purchase from these particular companies there’s a $25 factor for every $100 spent that gets recycled into our local community. So at the end that benefits schools, churches, roads, everything for all of us, so we all win when you purchase from these local companies.”
The expo featured more than 50 regional companies offering a variety of products and services, such as payroll processing, packing, office and cleaning supplies, and machinery. The goal is to ensure that other companies, that use such goods and services, know these products are out there.
“It could be a manufacturing plant, it could be a machine shop, it could be a testing company, it could be a school district,” Goldstrohm said. “The facilities maintenance people at the school districts use a lot of supplies to run their operations, building maintenance.”
The challenge is that many smaller companies don’t have large marketing budgets and find it hard to compete with huge international corporations.
“When we started this (Buy Pittsburgh First) four years ago we talked to a lot of purchasers, and they want to buy local, they don’t have the time to find local,” Goldstrohm said. “So what we’re trying to do is bridge that gap and make them there when they have a purchasing need — readily available. The service is there, the price point is there as well, so we’re just trying to bridge the gap of knowing who exists in the region.”
The Marcellus Shale industry is presenting more opportunities for local companies, but Goldstrohm said the same challenge remains — making businesses aware that they can get goods and services locally and regionally.