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'Keep it local'

Staff writer

Within days of the announcement that Wal-Mart would be building a Neighborhood Market store in Hillsboro, Marion Economic Development Director Terry Jones had launched a “Keep It Local Marion” social media page.

Jones was very clear, however, that the timing of the group’s creation was not indicative of its cause.

“First thing I want to say is, this is not an anti-Wal-Mart campaign,” he said. “When I interviewed for this job way back, one of the things I mentioned I wanted to do was start a shop-local campaign.”

The campaign, which has since changed the name of its Facebook page to “Keep It Local Marion Co.,” is intended to involve consumers and business owners to educate the community on the perks of buying local.

Jones said the campaign will promote businesses through a website, which will feature promotional videos. The website, which is not yet up and running, will offer special discounts for featured businesses.

The campaign, which Jones is working on alongside Marion City Administrator Roger Holter, is still in the building process, but should be “going full steam” by the end of October, Jones said.

“Certain business owners want it before Wal-Mart gets here,” Jones said. “They want us to get it going by no later than when Wal-Mart opens their doors. I’m just trying to get it up as soon as possible.”

While the campaign may not be anti-Wal-Mart, Jones admitted that the reception among local business owners of the national chain’s announcement certainly helped build momentum.

Jones said initially the campaign was going to be solely for the city of Marion, but when contacted by business owners from neighboring communities, Jones decided it would be more effective as a countywide effort. Jones has talked with Hillsboro Economic Development Director Clint Seibel, who is on board for the project.

“We’ve made it an open invitation to anybody in the county,” he said. “From the business side, then, why not (get involved in the campaign)? It wouldn’t hurt anything to seek a little help. Then from our side, the more businesses involved in the campaign, the more credible and more useful it will be.”

Jones said he didn’t yet know what level of involvement the chamber of commerce would have in the campaign.

“We’re going to work with every group, anybody that wants to help or be a part of it is welcome,” he said.

Jones said the campaign’s main focus will be getting consumers to consider before they buy.

“I know there’s things you can’t buy here in town,” he said. “Just two weeks ago I went to Wal-Mart to buy some golf balls.

“I’m just asking for people to think about it, to be conscious of it.”

Last modified Oct. 2, 2014

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