Dane County Communities Join ‘Buy Local’ Initiative

Governments Will Try To Buy Local Themselves, In Addition To Promoting Local Spending By Citizens

Middleton is one of the most recent communities to join the Dane Buy Local initiative. Photo: Channel 3000 Communities (CC-BY).

More cities in Dane County are promoting the idea of “buying local” by joining an initiative that promotes local ownership and spending.

Middleton and Fitchburg have now joined the nonprofit Dane Buy Local to persuade citizens to buy local, following the lead of the Dane County government and the city of Monona. It’s more than just symbolism — the municipalities may actually be customers themselves. Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff said the city hopes to buy equipment and supplies from local retailers while adhering to state purchasing laws.

“We think it’s a way that doesn’t tie us into anything,” said Pfaff. “Obviously there’s going to be competitive bidding and all that, but it’s a way for us to try and keep the local dollar here in the local economy.”

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Mike Davis, administrator for the city of Middleton, acknowledged it’s not realistic for a government to exclusively buy local.

“Occasionally we will also buy from Costco,” said Davis. “It’s not a matter of saying, ‘We’ll only buy local,’ because we have to be mindful of prices. But we value buying local and think it’s important for the community.”

There are many different programs to promote purchasing of local goods in Wisconsin. For instance, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program annually gives out $200,000 in grants to local food producers and offers development workshops.