During a political debate last week, Norwegian politicians Jonas Gahr Støre and Trygve Slagsvold Vedum bickered about the importance of buying from local businesses to get out of the Corona crisis. I am barely old enough to remember politics during the 90's, but this debate felt pretty old school.
Briefly summarized, both politicians cared about the same things: It is important to buy Norwegian goods because they are Norwegian and create jobs in Norway.
I run a small clothing company, and have a burning passion for local production. Each and every day I work to move clothing production back to where I live – in Oslo. But I do this for completely different reasons than what were mentioned by the two politicians. They simply haven't understood why local production is important in 2020.
So dear Jonas and Trygve. Welcome to 2020. In 2020 we care about the environment. In 2020 we care about people in other countries than our own. In 2020 we care about the quality of our products. In 2020 we care about how society can handle a crisis.
Here you go – a few out of many reasons as to why local production is important:
1. Environment: You didn't mention the environment, climate or sustainability even once. When the Corona crisis is over, climate change and the environmental crisis will be there waiting for us, just as unsolved as they were before. Local production give us tons of opportunities when it comes to sustainability: Fewer traveled miles, implementation of circular economy through reparation (etc.), and less over-production of products we don't need. These are just a few of local production's many positive effects.
2. Proximity to the customer gives good quality: A manufacturer who sells products to their neighbor cares about the product they make. They don't put toxins in the product the sell or the river where they live. Local production gives us better quality, which is good for both people and the environment.
3. Distribution of power and capital: When we purchase a product from China, it is most likely manufactured in a factory with thousands of laborers making extremely low wages, where the only one maing money off of the product is the owner of the factory. With local production, we support many small businesses that are owned by many "small" people. This way we spread power and capital throughout the population, instead of placing it with just a few people.
4. Innovation: It's the small (local) companies that most often create innovation and come up with solutions to problems in society. A big copany will be concerened with protecting their current revenues by nature, and will therefore have issues with change.
5. Better selection: Many small local producers give us consumers a better and bigger variety of products. We all like that.
6. Crisis management and preparedness: With dynamic and vibrant production environments, we can act quickly and adapt when a crisis occurs. If the production of essential equipment is localized with few large manufacturers on the other side of the world, we become very vulnurable. This is something many people have experienced this spring. In other words, local production makes used better prepared.
The difference between these two politicians and I, is that I am just as concerned with the small cheese producer in Bordeaux, France doing well as the cheese producer in Toten, Norway. The point isn't what passport they have. The point is that they are local and can make fantastic products. And if we're speaking of food, local food means fresher food. Fresh food tastes better and is usually more healthy. And healthy food that tastes good is something we all like, right?
I thought that fronting local production just because we love our country was prehistoric. We front local production because we love the world!