It’s spring, and many communities have either recently held elections or have them coming up. While it is easy to believe our votes have little effect at the national level, in local elections, nothing could be further from the truth. Your local vote not only affects various issues in your community, but it can determine the long-term vitality and vibrancy of your community for years to come.

Candidates elected today have a huge impact on the direction and future of your downtown and therefore your community. The questions you ask of them are critical, questions such as:

Do they understand the power of tourism to the community?

Do they understand the importance of being business friendly and how that draws new and younger entrepreneurs to your community?

Do they understand that wishing for new high-paying jobs to just show up in your community is usually a fool’s errand?

Do they understand the real importance of having a city-led hyperlocal movement?

Do they even understand what a hyperlocal movement is?

Tourism is one thing communities can control. The events they host along with the atmosphere they provide are critical to luring outside visitors to spend money in your community.

Being business-friendly is critical to a community’s growth. Communities making it difficult for startups or new businesses are simply left behind in today’s world. Entrepreneurs will migrate to the next town that happens to be more business-friendly and open their business there. City officials must create a one-stop business system that assists potential startups and simplifies the entire process.

Understanding the nature of higher paying jobs that accompany new businesses moving to town is what separates the true candidates from those blowing smoke. Companies relocating or startups offering high-paying jobs are few and far between. Communities understanding the slim odds of winning those few bids and altering course will have the upper hand because they make revitalizing and transforming their community and downtown the top priority. Companies don’t relocate to cities lacking community vibrancy and heart and soul. It is hard enough to retain workers because they seek quality of life. It is critical your community make vibrancy and heart and soul their priority in order to be relevant.

Having an understanding of what hyperlocal means is critical. Hyperlocal efforts must be led by the city. When cities purchase goods outside their community, they send a message to their residents that hyperlocal isn’t important. With city budgets being challenged more than ever, every penny kept within the boundaries of the local community is crucial. Those dollars will recirculate over and over again, providing additional jobs, sales taxes and progress within the city.

Cities simply must get this right.

John Newby is author of the “Building Main Street, Not Wall Street” column dedicated to helping communities combine synergies with local media companies allowing them to not just survive but to thrive. His email is john@360MediaAlliance.net.

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