By Maureen Post Special to Published Aug 20, 2009 at 11:09 AM

The benefit of buying local isn't a new concept, but just in case you weren't fully convinced, Our Milwaukee is putting up the numbers to back it up.

A recent study conducted in Grand Rapids, Mich., showed that if consumers shifted 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, the community would see nearly $140 million in new economic activity, over 1,600 new jobs and over $50 million in new wages.

In hopes of reaping the economic rewards, Our Milwaukee urges local residents to make the 10 percent switch. Whether it is in groceries, dining, services or entertainment, Our Milwaukee pushes area shoppers to become aware of their ability to transform the local economy.

"A study by Civic Economies showed that of $100 spent at a chain store, only $43 stays in your community. That same $100 spent at a locally-owned, independent business keeps $68 here. Out of every dollar, 25 cents more stays here when spent at an independent business. This is a startling amount when multiplied by millions of transactions," says Nancy Quinn, Our Milwaukee advocate.

Our Milwaukee was founded in 2006 by Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative. Joining forces with Alterra Coffee, Beans and Barley Foods, The Pabst and Riverside Theater, Brewery Credit Union and a few others, they urged local businesses to join together and create an overarching resource for residents to access information on independent service providers.

"While the 10 percent switch would be terrific, our main goal is to raise the awareness regarding the importance of buying local.  We would like people to make a conscious decision to shop local. Where to go to dinner, buy groceries, get your hair cut, services to help your business or new windows for your house -- all of these things and many more can be provided by Our Milwaukee members," says Quinn.

The reasoning behind Our Milwaukee's push for local businesses is simple. Recognizing the need for local support, it asserts the success of Milwaukee's independent businesses ensures unique neighborhoods, consumer variety and a thriving local economy.

"The effect of the 10 percent switch is strong because the owners and every decision maker is part of your community. This also gives the local business its individuality and collectively these businesses help sustain our community's unique character," says Quinn.

A full listing of Our Milwaukee members can be found on the organization's Web site.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.