Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "local" business?  

Those who study local economics and wish to maximize its impacts generally agree that "local" businesses are independent, meaning that they are not part of a franchise.  To participate in the Buy Local North Central Florida campaign, businesses must be "local" (and therefore independent) but they must also be privately owned (not publicly traded), and at least 51% of the ownership must reside within the ten-county area of North Central Florida:  Alachua, Marion, Levy, Gilchrist, Columbia, Suwannee, Union, Clay, Bradford, and Putnam.  The motivation behind these requirements is to harness as much of our local spending power as possible so that our region can increase its prosperity, jobs, sense of community, and quality of life by not exporting its wealth and by encouraging small business.  Many "buy local" campaigns all across the country have similar requirements.  

Aren't most local, independent businesses small?  How does supporting such small business help my community and the economy?

According to census data, businesses with less than 20 employees during the period 1993 to 2006 generated 72 percent of the new jobs while firms with more than 500 employees only generated 12 percent of the new jobs during this period. However, the bureau data indicates that small businesses generated 24 percent of new job growth during this period while large firms with more than 500 employees accounted for 37 percent of job growth.  The differences are in the methodologies used to classify firms for job growth calculations. For the census data, the company remains at its original classification for the entire period to determine the number of new positions created for each firm.

However, the bureau moves a company from one category to the next as it grows past 20 becoming a medium sized company and then on to the 500+ employee large firm threshold.

The census data methodology is more compelling because it shows that most of the job growth during this 13 year period was generated by companies that originally entered the analysis with less than 20 employees with a substantial portion growing to medium and large size companies during the observation period.

These results show that long term growth in employment comes from small companies with big ideas that rapidly grow to large companies creating new jobs in their wake.

-Dr. Swint Friday, Professor of Finance, Texas A&M - Caller Times September 23, 2010

What are some additional resources I can look to if I want to learn more about local economies?

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE):

US Small Business Administration, Advocacy Small Business Statistics and Research, Frequently Asked Questions:

Friday, Dr. Swint, “Small Businesses Are the Estuaries of Our Economy”.  Sept. 23, 2010.

McKibben, Bill.  Deep Economy:  The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.  Holt,  New York:  2007.

Shuman, Michael H. The Small-mart Revolution:  How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition.  Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco:  2006.

Tasch, Woody.  Slow Money.  Chelsea Green, White River Jct., Vermont:  2010.


Why should my business join this effort?

Not only will you be helping the larger campaign to grow our local economy and protect what is unique about our area, but you will be letting your customers know that they are doing the same each time they shop with you. You also get use of the logo and other marketing materials to promote your business and you will get exposure for your business through our website, press releases, events, and other marketing materials. 

Where do I get a discount card?

  • Alachua County:  Libraries (all branches), Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) 530 W. University Gainesville, and Alachua County Manager's Office and the Growth Management Office

  • Bradford County: Cooperative Extension Office, 2266 North Temple Avenue, Starke, FL

  • Levy County: Cooperative Extension Office, 625 North Hathaway Ave, Alt. 27, Bronson, FL 

  • Marion County: Cooperative Extension Office, 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala, FL 

  • Suwannee County: Libraries (all branches)

  • More to come!

  • How do I sign up?

    You can download the introduction letter and the contract on our Get Involved page.  If you would like more information or to talk with someone, please email us at 

    How do I know what discounts businesses are offering?

    If a business has a star next to their listing on our Participating Businesses page, they are offering a deal for holders of the card (or those with it on their phone). Businesses should be displaying their discount at their store front.  We allowed for maximum flexibility to let the businesses be creative with their offerings and change them up regulalry, so we do not post the discounts here.  You can also call the business (contact info is in the listing) and ask about how they are participating in Buy Local NCF.