A community-action driven movement is effective in El Campo, officials say, one purchase at a time.

“It’s working,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said of the Shop Local! campaign, adding consistent growth in sales tax rebate dollars is having an effect on the city’s budget and, consequently, the tax rate citizens pay.

The campaign, started by the City Development Corporation of El Campo in partnership with the El Campo Leader-News, has been conducted for the last three years. The City of El Campo and Chamber of Commerce have joined in the effort as well.

“El Campo supports its own and it shows in the numbers,” Chamber President Rebecca Munos said, but added the effort must be ongoing to work.

“We just need to keep hammering Shop Local! Shop Local! And sharing what we all have to offer. There are many times I hear someone say they didn’t know something was here, and that is what we are all cooperatively working on is best marketing practices and sharing the good news of all El Campo has as far as retail and services,” she said.

Spending dollars in the community rather than online or in another city, creates a ripple effect.

Those dollars pay wages, those wages are used to purchase staples, pay for housing, and cover a portion of the cost of operating the city itself.

But it’s far more than even that, CDC Executive Director Carolyn Gibson said.

Business success breeds business success.

“The best advertising a community can have for business recruitment is the health and happiness of their current businesses,” Gibson said, adding, “That is the best secret of site selectors, to come into a community and visit with the locals. Remember, you are our front line with those folks. The welcoming smiles and positive comments mean everything to our success.”

Sales tax dollars have been up 8 percent for the last two years and 11 percent the year before that, Sladek said, allowing the city to increase its expectations on what dollars it will generate.

“El Campo has a strong Shop El Campo base and efforts are paying off, as we see more and more citizens shopping local,” Munos said. “There are lots of retail opportunities in El Campo, and our merchants pay special attention to the needs of the community and what shoppers are wanting.”

The primary concern is an obvious one, Munos said.

“It has gotten way too easy to purchase online, which is good for online business but harmful to our locals ... We have to remember it is local businesses employing our neighbors and family, and our own businesses supporting our organizations. Have you ever heard of Amazon sponsoring a Little League team, or buying fundraiser plates?

“Let’s make the effort to get out and meet the business owners ... Overall El Campo supports its own, but there is always room for increase.”

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