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Building Entrepreneurial Communities

What does it take to keep our roads clear . . . and how do we pay for it?

Spending locally first ensures roads are safe for travel in winter.

In Illinois, we’re familiar with the phrase “A winter weather advisory is in effect for your region.” Snow has blanketed the state from north to south and more snow is predicted.

Winter storms can bring bitterly cold temperatures, heavy snow, and icy roads. We rely on IDOT and our local highway departments to send out trucks, equipment, and crews to treat surfaces, plow the roads and respond to weather emergencies. In return, they ask that we slow down, increase our driving distance, and remain patient. 

All Illinoisans owe a huge “Thank You” to the road crews for braving the winter weather to ensure that roads are safe for travel.

In the spirit of recognizing a job well done, there is no better time to remind Illinois residents that Spending Locally First ensures the roads are safe for travel this winter.  

If we spend in local businesses, we support community services. Those tax dollars work for us locally.

In the simplest of terms, the more money we spend in our local communities and within the state, the more tax dollars we generate to support state, county, and municipal budgets, resulting in more resources to fund IDOT and the local highway departments that keep our roads safe for travel.    

Many regions of our state have stagnant or declining revenue streams because people are not supporting local businesses. Those businesses pay taxes and provide local jobs. Without tax revenue, local governments and other taxing districts are finding it more difficult to provide essential services, such as road maintenance. 

The resulting dilemma for local governments is to identify new ways to balance the budget.  This can mean increasing revenues (i.e., raising taxes), cutting expenses, or a combination of the two. Either way, residents lose, as they either pay higher taxes and/or have fewer services available.   

For those of us making purchases, we may look for lower costs online or in a neighboring state, but when you purchase items and pay sales or motor fuel taxes out of state, you are supporting their state, county, and municipal budgets, not those of your state, county or local community.   

“If essential public services, such as snow removal, are important to you, then shopping local SHOULD be important to you. Making purchases and paying taxes locally supports our own public services. Shop local!” says Susan Odum, University of Illinois Extension community and economic development specialist.  

Susan Odum is a University of Illinois Extension specialist in Community and Economic Development, specializing in community development and planning. She graduated summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale with a master of business administration. She received nationally-recognized certification as a professional community and economic developer from the Community Development Council. Her office is in Marion.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.