As I'm settling into my position as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of Warren County, I've been thinking heavily on my goals for the Chamber and how to best fulfill the organization's mission. Our current mission statement speaks to enhancing the growth and opportunities of Chamber members, thus playing a role in the economic development of Warren County. And while much of my work is based in dues-paying member relations, I keep thinking about the role of community and how, ultimately, the consumer is somewhat of a Chamber member as well.

In theory, local Chamber members and members servicing Warren County make decisions based on consumer demand and customer relations. The concerns of Chamber members stem from their interest in being successful and reputable business owners. What goes on between the Chamber of Commerce, its members, and the members' consumer base is a microcosm of the larger community economy that we're all a part of here in Warren County. We all play a role in the success of our local market, whether we're a business owner, a customer, or a dues-paying member of the Chamber of Commerce. We are all in it together.

In economics, the term "externality" refers to a benefit resulting from an economic transaction that is received by a third-party (an individual, organization, community, etc.). The idea of positive and negative externalities in terms of community growth and economic development can be a motivator in how we view our role in the local market of Warren County. For example, as consumers in Warren County, when we support a local vendor, we are also supporting (in theory) a local tax preparer, a local attorney, a local printer, or a local labor force. Local businesses tend to give back locally, either by using other local businesses for goods and services, or having the resources to make charitable donations in the community. Local businesses provide goods and services and social opportunities to attract and retain new residents. Abandoned storefronts transform when a business moves in. A sense of community and local pride builds among residents.

When businesses and communities campaign to promote "buy local," it isn't just about supporting that one local business owner with whom you complete the transaction; it's about supporting Warren County and making economic decisions that impact your community through the ripple effect. I encourage you to make a commitment to Warren County through economic impact in whatever way you can. No small move goes unappreciated in the grand scheme of things.

If you're looking for ways to support the community economy in Warren County, keep in touch with the Chamber of Commerce of Warren County and its members at warren-chamber.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/WarrenCountyChamber and Twitter @WarrenChamber. 

Chamber Connections is a monthly column by The Chamber of Commerce of Warren County.