by Terri Banaszewski

Buy local. Support local independent businesses. We hear it all the time, but it is more important now than ever. Even big-box solutions that we have grown used to for one-stop convenience are struggling because of online shopping.

Is that where our values are? Online? Convenience? What does that do for our sense of community? 

I work in a neighborhood where people know my name. St. Anthony Park is a small community touching both St. Paul and Minneapolis that has been around since the late 1800s. People move to neighborhoods like this because it is walkable and you can get your basic necessities, plus frills, nearby. Retail, groceries, service businesses, and dining in a few blocks. Not a big box among them! 

The community likes it that way. However, my guess is that many of us still get in our cars and drive a few miles — spending gas and time in traffic — for the "convenience" of saving a few bucks at a big box store. 

It is local businesses that create neighborhood jobs. Local owners support local schools and nonprofits with donations. Some of them diversify and create new businesses, or other investments in nearby blocks. Local independent businesses help to keep our personal real estate taxes in check.

The bank where I work runs a coffee bar; it donates at least $500 each month directly to local youth, schools, daycares, and other groups. A local owner developed a property into 25 units of multi-family housing, which increased the property tax base.

I grew up in the small town of Wadena. Local business is what it was all about. Everything was centered in a few blocks. My first job was at the local Red Owl grocery store. I got to know every business owner. All my friends worked somewhere “downtown” after school. We all shopped the local stores. 
I am fortunate to have that same sense of community where I work now. That is why I do everything I can, personally and professionally, to invest my money right here, right now.

Terri Banaszewski is Vice President of Business Development at Sunrise Banks, responsible for growing business, retail, and residential mortgage portfolios through business development activities, involvement in community events, and outreach. She serves on many boards including St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers at WomenVenture.