ROME — In order to help boost the local economy, the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce is pushing its Shop Rome First Initiative.
This is in response to a 2001 poll by Zogby International that found 75 percent of Rome residents looked first to stores outside the city, said chamber president Bill Guglielmo.
“Shopping locally helps support independent business owners, keep sales tax dollars in our community, and keep property taxes down,” he said. “While there are many benefits to membership in the Rome chamber, we appreciate our responsibility to encourage everyone to shop Rome first.”
Guglielmo said at that time there was no national campaign for shopping local, no grassroots movement or social media push for people to shop in their home city.
The program evolved over the years in response to an annual survey of participants, and he said in 2015 sales tax revenue in December was more than $300,000 higher than it was in 2002.
“The Rome chamber was years ahead of the curve and successfully helped increase and stabilize local sales tax revenue for the city of Rome in each December with its Shop Rome First holiday campaign,” Guglielmo said.
The initiative starts ahead of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to encourage residents to think about their local stores before heading out of town to do their holiday shopping.
The chamber has a list of all of the businesses involved in the organization on its website (romechamber.com), and is recommending that residents looking to shop local check out the list and think about how they can shop there.
Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo said the campaign serves as a good reminder to city residents to start their holiday shopping in the city to see what options are available.
“Of course we would like everyone to consider shopping Rome first for the holidays,” Izzo said. “It does help to generate sales tax, but more importantly it helps our retailers, our businesses. The more traffic that gets generated in the city, hopefully the better it will be. … If you’re out shopping, you might stop for a cup of coffee or lunch, so all of those dollars will stay home here in Rome.”
Contact reporter Samantha Madison at 315-792-5015 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Madison).