We held a very interesting discussion here at the Partnership this morning with representatives from Buffalo Niagara's professional services industry. "Professional services" is the new name - which is more inclusive - for the target industry sector previously known as back office/financial services.
For me, the most interesting part of the meeting was the theme that dominated most of the discussion - that we need to encourage companies in Buffalo Niagara to buy locally. Now, that wasn't a particularly surprising message coming from law firms, accounting firms and printers - they exist on providing services for companies throughout the region. The interesting thing was that it was the SAME message that we heard in both the logistics and agribusiness industry roundtables we held earlier this year. Sounds like there's a problem.
Fixing that problem is tough simply because you can't force a company to ignore their bottom line or waver from their business strategy to keep their contacts local. At the Partnership, we've engaged in this effort through our "Buy Local" campaign, our networking atmosphere and our Member-to-Member and Cost Saver programs. But, as brought up this morning in the discussion, those making purchasing decisions for companies are not paid to promote the community, but to get the best value for the best price on behalf of their employer. How do you introduce a "for the good of the community" philosophy into that equation?
As these issues come more and more to light, you can bet we'll be discussing ways to make it happen. It's not difficult to see the benefit of providing work - aka jobs - to local companies rather than shipping them elsewhere - and with the internet, you can now ship work to just about anywhere on the globe. For now, though, the effort will rely on word-of-mouth, people taking advantage of networking opportunities, and a continued message on the importance of "buying locally."
Wouldn't that be an awesome platform for any of a host of Buffalo Niagara elected officials?