Slice of Orange campaign has overwhelming response

Published 8:42 am Saturday, October 17, 2015

Area Chamber of Commerces joined together to kick-off a five-year initiative to educate citizens and businesses on the importance of shopping locally. A recent component of the program is the Get a Slice of Orange County campaign.

2000 commercials advertising 60 Orange County entities were more than the anticipated response.

“As the chamber, we watch the sales tax,” Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce President Ida Schossow said. “When we saw it declining, that is a red flag and asked what can the chamber do?”

That was two year ago.

Bridge City, Greater Orange Area and Vidor Chamber of Commerce joined together to in speaking publically at council meetings, civic groups and schools to educate residents on the economic impact of shopping locally.

“Many people were not aware how shopping locally could impact the number of firemen or the roads,” Schossow said. “The county government operates on sales tax and property tax. If sales tax go down, then property tax will go up.”

Schossow also said a declining sales tax and businesses closing are a red flag for corporate contacts looking at a community as a possible location.

“Get a Slice of Orange County is an opportunity to advertise in and outside the county,” Schossow said. “It is an opportunity to bring in new revenue to the area. We heard people asking, ‘See the Jasper commercials?’”

Blake Poutra, owner of The Refinery Source a marketing, consulting and design company, was hired for the Get a Slice of Orange County advertising.

Poutra, a LC-M graduate, is also a member of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce also serves on the committee for economic development with the chamber.

“I do have an additional location in Beaumont,” Poutra said. “But I have an office in Pinehurst, live in Orange and my business is registered in Orange. I am not even a member of the Beaumont Chamber. I am only a member of the Orange Chamber.”

Poutra said the campaign had an overwhelming response, which initially was given a conservative estimate.

“We were able to do 2000 commercials which air between 5 a.m. and Midnight on FOX, CBS and a variety of cable channels,” Poutra said. “There are two parts as we give the business the commercial to use on social media and their websites so they can continue to market their business.”

Ida Schossow said the program is helping get the names of the businesses out to the people.

“It takes the county to make this a success,” Schossow said. “People are starting to realize the affect. Shopping locally means more tax dollars into the county and businesses are able to give more to non-profits and churches.”

It is a part of the multiplier effect.

The multiplier is comprised of three elements — the direct, indirect, and induced impacts.

  • Direct impact is spending done by a business in the local economy to operate the business, including inventory, utilities, equipment and pay to employees.
  • Indirect impact happens as dollars the local business spent at other area businesses re-circulate.
  • Induced impact refers to the additional consumer spending that happens as employees, business owners and others spend their income in the local economy.

On average, 48-percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14-percent of purchases at chain stores, according to American Independent Alliance website.
Local schools are funded through a combination of state and local tax money at approximately $5,200 per student. Each of the school districts in Orange County earn different amounts per pupil based on property values and tax effort. However, when school district enrollments increase, so do local school budgets.

“When one shops on-line, the sales tax dollars go elsewhere such as San Francisco, Portland or Boston,” Chairman of the Chamber Economic Development Tad McKee said. “Those dollars then help other churches, other little leagues.”

McKee also said people will follow the money.

“You have to support Orange County businesses if you want people to stay in the community,” McKee said. “With an increase sales tax, it shows success of the campaign. I hope the message is getting through. I am not aware of Amazon donating to any non-profits, advertising in the Orange Leader or giving to local churches.”

One success of shopping locally is Gopher Industries. The business located in Orange with two employees when co-owner David Jones noticed the number of customers traveling from Orange.

The business has grown to 27 employees and two competitors also relocated to the area.

“Gopher Industries is an example of bringing new businesses here,” McKee said. “Shopping locally means more stores, more kids in our schools, and more donations for our non-profits. It also improves service and improves selections when shopping.”

Scot C. Shaffer, president of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce, said joining together with the other chambers in the initiative is having a positive affect.

“There is power in numbers,” Shaffer said. “Keeping the money at home has a trickle down effect. More money allows businesses to hire more employees.”

When talks for the initiative to Shop Orange County began, Dean Granger, former chairman of the chamber economic development, contacted American Independent Alliance.

“Through research we knew other communities started Shop Local campaigns,” Granger said. “We did not want to reinvent the wheel. We joined the alliance to get educated on the shop local campaign and to use the resources available.”

Granger said one difference between the Shop Orange County initiative and other communities campaigns is the chambers includes all stores within the county.

“We felt we needed Home Depot and Wal-Mart,” Granger said. “We need more of those business.”

Granger said the Get a Slice of Orange County campaign has added value to becoming a chamber member as it has brought more engagement between the chambers and businesses.

“As a business owner I hear more people say they want to shop around, but the want to buy in Orange,” Granger said. “It has been an interesting journey. I think it is the biggest initiative of the chamber since I have been with the chamber.”

The mission of the Shop Orange County Campaign is to educate and create awareness regarding the importance and economic benefits of shopping locally.