I’ve never had a head for business. Recently, though, I’ve stumbled upon a very basic and personal lesson in Economic Development—a microcosm of a much bigger machine that keeps roofs over our heads and food on our plates. Feel free to use this if you’re ever teaching a child and maybe it won’t take them as long as it took me.
This small-scale version came to me in the form of an advance payment from the publisher of my first novel. Not a large sum, but since the publisher is in the U.S., the payment was in American dollars—which right now looks a lot better than our own. That’s sad for Canada, but helpful for me—unless you consider that it also drives up the cost of my book for Canadian readers.
But here’s my point. Those U.S. dollars came right here to me in little ol’ Portage la Prairie. I decide to throw a party to launch the book and I invite 13,000 friends to celebrate with me. (OK, they didn’t all come. Work with me.) I hire a local caterer to make and serve pie. I pay a local paper to promote it. I order a bouquet for the event from a local florist. I hire a local printer to make bookmarks as gifts for my guests. I give part of the profits to a local charity, as well as a tithe to my local church. And naturally, I buy a new outfit for the event. By the time that party’s over, numerous businesses and organizations in town have received a little piece of that money coming into Portage.
See the pattern here? My little event isn’t going to make or break any of those businesses, but when we keep repeating that scenario, it enables us all to live and keep on contributing to our community.
Mayor Irvine Ferris tells me that a dollar spent in Portage changes hands seven times before it leaves the community. A dollar spent outside the community is simply gone.
“How do we know that’s true?” I asked my hubby. “Who figures these things out?”
His illustration helped me see it. Each community is a bucket. Each has a certain amount being poured into it, and each has leaks at the bottom. When the leakage beats the inflow, the bucket empties, but when the leaks are plugged and more pours in, the bucket will eventually overflow and you’ll need a bigger bucket. Growing communities enjoy a greater inflow than outgo. Simple, right? So simple you might think your purchases can’t help plug those leaks, but they can. Or they can enlarge them, your choice. Are you a leak-maker or a leak-plugger?
I want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all the leak-pluggers who came out to celebrate my book launch with me. This community is the best!
I’m working on a second book called Maggie’s War. Whether or not my publisher wants it will depend largely on how the first book does in its first three months. And how the first book does will, apparently, depend at least partly on how many reviews it receives. If you’ve had a chance to read The Silver Suitcase and would recommend it to others, you can leave a review on Amazon.com. Even a two or three sentence review is helpful.
If you’re still looking for a copy, you can buy one at Heritage Books or at our library. And if you missed the party, another launch is happening at McNally Robinson in the Grant Park shopping centre on February 12 at 7:00 pm.