A study of 3,060 counties in America shows a direct and consistent correlation between a higher density of locally owned businesses, and the health of everyone living there. Want to be healthy? Get the city council to stop giving breaks to Giant Corporation, Inc., and promote local small businesses instead.
It turns out the health benefits of Giant Corporation, Inc. aren’t anywhere near as helpful as a high density of locally owned and very small businesses. The counties with the fewest locally owned businesses have the highest mortality, obesity, diabetes and other bad health indicators, and those with the most locally owned businesses have the best health rates in America.
Isn’t big, better, though?
One of the many assumptions of the Industrial Age was that Giant Corporation, Inc. could provide better for your family and your community than a bunch of local-yocal small businesses. So why doesn’t it work out that way?
Giant corporations are the best at talking a good game. They have PR departments. Joe’s Java Shop doesn’t. In communicating that big is better, the giants employ the Disraeli principle (There are three kinds of lies; lies, damnable lies and statistics). They point to better individual health benefits as proof they take better care of you than the locals.
But what they don’t point to is where their heart is, and it’s not in the local community. It’s not even where their corporate headquarters is. It’s with their investors and making them as much money as possible. Where is the heart of the local business owner? Right where they live. They are much more inclined to build a community infrastructure that makes life better for all of us than Giant Corporation, Inc.
Ownership is Powerful Voodoo
We all understand that locals take pride in their communities. But it’s much deeper than that worn phrase. They take ownership. Everyone who lives there takes ownership, not just the business owners. They all “own” the local community in a very real way. It’s their brand, their identity, their view of the world, their “team”. People who live locally give back to their local communities.
Local Business is the Benefactor
Why does Toledo, Ohio have one of the top five zoos in the world? Why are there such fantastic museums in Kansas City, Missouri? What makes a small town in Colorado the healthiest community in America (with no corporations to take care of them)? All of these are because of locally involved business owners, not giant corporations.
With rare exceptions, the new wing on a local hospital is going to be named after some local business owner (or wealthy doctor) who donated millions to make it happen. The same is true of parks, museums, playhouses, live theaters, and soup kitchens. And service oriented clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Lions, the farmers market and the local flower club are all started and populated with people who live in the community, who have a deep commitment to the health and beauty of their local communities.
The research also shows small businesses with fewer than five employees are more likely to promote great local hospitals, recruit physicians, promote community health programs and activities and support local farmers’ markets.
Not so much
Your mother told you to work for Giant Corporation, Inc. so you could have great health benefits and a pension plan. But benefits, salaries and pension plans from large companies have dropped 33% in the last 30 years and the LSU research says there isn’t much of a gap anymore between big and small businesses (Professional Employment Organizations – PEOs have done a lot to fill that gap).
Challenge your local government
Do you want a healthy community? Own your own business and make sure your local government isn’t worshiping at the altar of big business tax breaks, special land deals and exceptions to rules that local business owners will never see.
We’re made to live locally. It’s great to see research proving it. Again.
by Chuck Blakeman, Author of the #1 Rated Business Book of the Year, Making Money is Killing Your Business and Top 10 business book, Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea