Local First Sponsors Forum 2014 – The Power of Economic Opportunity


Morning keynote Dr. Maggie Anderson will speak about the economics of how black buying power can impact black communities!


By Samantha Vanderberg


Local First is sponsoring Forum 2014, an event held by the Partners for a Racism-Free Community.


Dr. Maggie Anderson will be the morning keynote speaker. In her recent book Our Black Year, she delves into racial equity issues in her community by chronicling her family’s year-long effort to shop at only black-owned businesses.


Dr. Anderson’s work is values-aligned with Local First’s mission in that both consider the role locally-owned businesses (and individual purchasing devisions) play in creating jobs, building a vibrant community, and maintaining a high quality of life. Dr. Anderson’s thesis shows that spending money at black-owned businesses allows money to circulate in black neighborhoods, which would in turn strengthen the community and create jobs. Local First similarly knows that when people in Kent County spend their money at locally-owned businesses, that money stays in our community at a rate of 73% and directly impacts job growth.


In her book, Dr. Anderson reveals shocking statistics about black buying power. On average, black businesses receive only 2% of the $1 trillion of black buying power, which is two cents of every dollar. A dollar circulates among banks, shopkeepers, and other businesses for nearly a month in some ethnic groups, whereas in the black community: six hours. Black businesses are also the greatest private employer of black people, thus the lack of support impacts unemployment in the black community. Dr. Anderson frames these issues as opportunity for change: small shifts in purchasing habits toward black businesses can improve the current situation.


“We are so glad to be sponsoring this event. We are a community that understands the significance of ownership. Maggie’s work spotlights an issue that is important for us to understand and address in order to achieve racial and economic equity in our community. Her personal examination of the role of local ownership within the black community will expand our perspective,” said Emily Loeks, Vice-Chair of both the Local First Board and the Local First Educational Board, and Director of Education & Community Partnerships at Celebration! Cinema. Loeks will be introducing Dr. Maggie Anderson at Forum 2014.


Forum 2014 will be held on Friday, February 21 at the Eberhard Center at GVSU Downtown Campus. Registration and breakfast will begin at 8:00am. Tickets cost $55 and are available at localfirst.com/events/forum-2014 or prfc-gr.org.