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The two sides of buying local

55799540 In the past two weeks, some interesting things have been happening around the discussion of buying locally. Let's look at both sides of the coin and then I'd love to hear what you think.

Iowa Department of Economic Development:

The Iowa Department of Economic Development recently awarded a big chunk of their $6 million dollar budget to international agency giant Burson-Marsteller

Many Iowa agencies (including this piece by Des Moines' agency Lessing Flynn) and the local Advertising Federation have called foul

It has been a pretty big news story locally.

Others, myself included, have written that while considering Iowa firms was important (which IDED did) they should choose the best firm for the job and not feel bound by the "buy local" sentiment.

You can also read IDED's official response and see what you think.

So the question here is....should the Iowa department, charged with spurring economic growth in the state of Iowa, be allowed/chastised for going outside the state to hire the expertise they need?

And on the flip side we have....


Heineken USA raised eyebrows in the agency world last week by throwing the creative account for its flagship lager brands into review and announcing it was only considering shops in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas), where it is launching a marketing headquarters for the business.

Heineken said that despite technology advances, they want to be able to have plenty of face time with their agency.

Read the whole story in AdAge here.

So, what do you think?

On one hand, we have Iowa agencies frustrated that an Iowa client went outside the state boundaries to get their work done and on the flip side...we have the world's agencies angry that Heineken has literally restricted its agency search to a 23 square mile island.

I'm not sure there is a right answer.  Maybe the right answer is....thank goodness we live in a country where we get to choose who we do business with.  Or maybe it is we owe our neighbors a shot.  Or maybe we owe them the business?

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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» Buy local? We sell global. from Roth & Company, P.C.
"Buy local" is a common rallying cry. The "Buy Into the Circle" campaign of the Greater Des Moines Partnership is... [Read More]


I was involved with the local campaign "Buy Into The Circle" since the beginning. The concept is important to local business and the local economy. Why? As a business owner whose core business relies on central Iowa businesses, the more we are supported, the more people I employ, the more services required from other local businesses, the more I can contribute to local causes and charitable organizations,
and the more I pay in local taxes.
The intent of "Buy In The Circle" was simply to bring awareness to local businesses and ask the business community to provide them every opportunity. The stronger our local businesses, the healthier our local economy. But... moving to a local vendor has to make good business sense. The local businesses also must understand they have a responsibility to provide the prospect business reasons to choose local. Local business is just asking for consideration and a fair opportunity, and then it is up to us to prove ourselves. If this occurs, we all benefit from more dollars circulating in our economy.
Bill Weidmaier


Those two cases seem like apples and oranges to me. One is a private sector company, making a decision it feels is in the best interests of its profit-motivated owners. There should never be a "buy local" restriction on a transaction like that.

The other case is one of a tax financed enterprise collecting tax money from one group of people, under the auspice of using it to generate more business for that tax base, and spending that tax money in an area outside of the tax base.

While it is possible the outside PR firm is so much better than any company within the tax base, they have some work to do right out of the gates just to get the PR situation back to where it was before they entered the picture.

The key is that IDED is doing something which is apparently diametrically opposed to the wishes of its owners. As the owners apparently have no say on such things under the current system, perhaps the system should be changed to allow the people who paid the money IDED is dolling out, to have some say as to where that money is spent.

Brett Trout

Yes, I do think that the IDED, of all organizations, should have gone local for this contract.

Ultimately, it is the consumers choice where to buy products and/or services. I believe the buy local sentiment should be viewed as a reminder to those in need of products or services to at least consider doing business with locally owned businesses, the benefit of doing so will obviously help sustain the local economy. Once considered, however, it is the responsibility of the local business to win the sale!

Dan Frankl


Gannon Roofing Supply (Locally owned and operated!)

Oh, yes . . . thanks Brett for saying it so succinctly. I agree with both Dan and Drew that private companies can do as they wish but I'm a little lost as to why the IDED would select from outside the state. It seems their agenda is to sell Iowa to outside entities. They are saying, "Look at us. We're a great place to build your newest plant, make your movies, hire for your skills, etc. Then they turn around and basically turn around and say "Do as I say, not as I do." Apparently the IDED doesn't think that much of the firms here in the state so they had to go outside to find someone to sell Iowa.

I would only say that we should look at the top purchased items in our US GDP processes. One at the top is energy and understanding how and who we need in to get it. Treat the immediate needs and then take the next one in order.

When you look at all the imported product you quickly understand why it is hard for Americans to find jobs. We do not need Cap and Trade it is another tax which is going to cost us more jobs.

America needs to wake up, buy local and trade with countries that are friendly and share the same values as most of us here in the USA do.
We need to return to a core values and purchase what is local. Local producers do have to compete in the market and priced has to reflect the cost. Local produced products have smaller transportation expenses and that is a competitive advantage that has to be exploited.

Good luck Iowa, America is counting on you.

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