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Studies show farmers markets help boost local economies
By Judy Schuster
Special to the Reporter
Recent studies show that farmers markets have a significant positive impact on a community’s economic landscape. While an individual’s purchase may seem small, there are multiplier effects that spill over to the larger community and region.
Farmers markets help sustain local farmers and encourage the development of food-centric small businesses. By selling directly to the public, farmers eliminate the middleman and plow greater revenues into their businesses. Food vendors eliminate the cost of a storefront, helping them concentrate on growing. These are the direct benefits. But the indirect impact of farmers markets generates significant benefits as well. A Washington State University (WSU) study shows that 44 percent of market patrons spend money at nearby businesses when they shop at the market. These dollars “stick” to the local economy.
The WSU study also found that 88 percent of market vendors expand beyond their booths after three years of selling their products at farmers markets. Some open a storefront or a restaurant. Others start selling their products to grocery stores. Such ventures generate more local jobs and a bump in the local economy.
Farmers markets are fertile environments for incubating new businesses. The next time you visit the MI Farmers Market, you can be confident you are supporting the local and regional economies.