From our friends at American Independent Business Alliance:

Top Reasons to Buy Local, Eat Local, Go Local

By choosing local and independent businesses for your services, shopping, dining and other needs, you not only get real value and personal service, you're helping to:

  1. BUILD COMMUNITY! The casual encounters you enjoy at neighborhood--scale businesses and the public spaces around them build relationships and community cohesiveness. (source 1, source 5) They're the ultimate social networking sites!
  2. STRENGTHEN YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY! Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns 3 times more money (source 2) to your local economy than one spent at a chain -- a benefit we all can bank on.
  3. SHAPE OUR CHARACTER! Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality.
  4. CREATE A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT! Independent, community-serving businesses are people-sized. They typically consume less land, carry more locally-made products, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution. (source 3)
  5. LOWER TAXES! More efficient land use and more central locations mean local businesses put less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services. They also generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. The bottom line: a greater percentage of local independent businesses will help keep your taxes lower. (source 4)
  6. ENHANCE CHOICES! A wide variety of independent businesses, each serving their customers' tastes, creates greater overall choice for all of us.
  7. CREATE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES! Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also are the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys, etc., expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
  8. GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY! Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events, and teams compared to big businesses. (source 5)
  9. INCREASE WEALTH OF RESIDENTS! The multiplier effect noted above generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local residents. (source 6)
  10. ENHANCE HEALTH OF RESIDENTS! Studies show strong correlation between the percentage of small locally-owned firms and various indicators of personal and community health and vitality. (source 7)

1. "Scale of Agriculture Production, Civic Engagement, and Community Welfare" by T Lyson and R. Torres, Oxford Journals, 2001. "The Configuration of Local Economic Power and Civic Participation in the Global Economy" by T. Blanchard and T. Matthews, Project Muse, 2006.
2. "The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Business Ownership" (1)
3. "Neighborhood stores: An overlooked strategy for fighting global warming" by Stacy Mitchell, Grist.
4. (2) Fiscal Impact Analysis of Residential and Nonresidential Land Use Prototypes (pdf) – by Tischler & Associates, July 2002. Key findings: Specialty retail -- primarily small neighborhood-located business -- generate a net annual return to municipalities of $326 per 1,000 square feet of store space. Business parks, offices, and hotels also generated positive net revenue. However, the infrastructure and maintenance costs generated by big box retail outweigh tax revenues, resulting in a cost to taxpayers of $468 per 1,000 square feet of floor space each year. Fast-food outlets were the most burdensome development, costing taxpayers $5,168 per 1,000 square feet.
5. (3)In a study for the Small Business Administration, Business Contributions to Community Service (1991), professor Patricia Frishkoff of Oregon State University analyzed charitable giving by firm size. She found companies with fewer than 100 employees gave an average of $789 per employee in cash and in-kind donations, compared to $334 per employee at firms with more than 500 employees.
6. (4)In their 2011 study, Does Local Firm Ownership Matter? (Economic Development Quarterly), Stephan Goetz and David Fleming of Pennsylvania State University analyzed 2,953 counties of various demographics and circumstances. After controlling for unrelated factors, they found counties with more small, locally-owned businesses enjoyed greater per capita income growth. Greater concentrations of large absentee-owned businesses were associated with lowered incomes.
7. (5) T. C. Blanchard, C. Tolbert, C. Mencken. "The health and wealth of US counties: how the small business environment impacts alternative measures of development." Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 2011. Researchers studied 3,060 counties and parishes in the U.S. and found counties with a greater proportion of small businesses had lower rates of mortality, obesity and diabetes.

Goldschmidt, Walter R. (1947). As You Sow: Three Studies in the Social Consequences of Agribusiness. This landmark study compared two small nearby agricultural communities in California: one dominated by large agribusiness corporations, the other consisting of small owner-operated farms. The latter enjoyed a more vibrant, diverse economy and higher quality of life. The study is summarized here.

These and other related studies are covered well in this article by Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), whose website summarizes and links many more reports and studies relevant to these issues.

The "top ten" consists largely of items created for the first Boulder Independent Business Alliance directory, refined with ideas from ILSR and others over the years (BIBA founder Jeff Milchen went on to create AMIBA with co-director, Jennifer Rockne.) Contact AMIBA for comprehensive support in helping you instigate an effective and lasting "buy local" campaign. AMIBA also provides free "pro-local" web stickers featuring these bullet points.