To Buy Local or Not? That is the question on October 27th

Buy Local sign

Flickr / alicia.pimental

It’s the $64,000 dollar question. Can municipalities and other public agencies adopt “Buying Local” policies or initiatives without running afoul of trade agreements? How can governments encourage economic development and promote minority and diversity suppliers, and at the same time stay onside with the legal department. After all, buying locally produced goods and services is one of the most effective ways to implement targeted economic development work.

If you’ve wondered about how to support more local businesses through your purchasing decisions, we encourage you to join us in Vancouver, October 27 for the Think Global, Buy Local learning event organized by the Fraser Basin BuySmart Network in partnership with LOCO BC.

Topics of discussion will include defining local purchasing, sample policies and practices, regulatory considerations, success stories, lessons learned and more.

The event will be led by a powerhouse collection of local purchasing experts who will be on hand to share their experience and expertise, including many of the founding members of the BuySmart Program – Amy Robinson of LOCO BC, Coro Stradberg of Strandberg Consulting, Bob Purdy of the BuySmart Network, Vicki Wakefield, Purchasing Manager at UBC and Tim Reeve of Reeve Consulting.

Think Global, Buy Local will be a high value learning and networking event and a great opportunity to come together with thought leaders in local purchasing. Reeve Consulting is looking forward to participating and we hope you’re able to join us.

Visit the event website for full details and ticket sales.

Can sweatshops improve lives and economic growth?

Flickr / lovstromp

Benjamin Powell, a Stafford University professor of economics, thinks so!

In his book No Sweat: How Sweatshops Improve Lives and Economic Growth he argues that we should rejoice when we buy apparel made in sweatshops because it creates jobs and provides a living for people in poorer countries. He states that sweatshop workers usually earn at least the national average and therefore make a good living that should be supported by our consumption.

But Powell is “arguing in support of the lesser evil.” The other piece of the puzzle that Powell seems to ignore is that the same companies that are using sweatshops could continue to invest in developing economies, bring jobs to the same nations, and improve economic welfare, while at the same time refusing to support sweatshops conditions.

The fact is, whether or not workers earn a decent wage, the human rights of sweatshop workers are consistently violated, making Powell’s argument hard to swallow. Many factories workers suffer forced overtime, terrible factory conditions and often receive less than they were promised, in salary or food. In some case children are exploited and are not able to receive an education as a result.

At Reeve Consulting, we believe lives can be improved and economies can grow by engaging with suppliers and manufacturers to improve labour conditions in production facilities. Addressing ethics in supply chains does not mean closing down factories and laying off staff; it means working to improve the lives of factory workers, increasing profits for factory owners, and stimulating economic growth.

Whatever the potential economic arguments for sweatshops may be, one should not forget that “an economy” is a human construct and is therefore interconnected to human wellbeing. Some sweatshops may pay decent wages (relatively speaking) in some or even many cases, but a factory where staff are sick and tired is not a place where lives can be improved and profits can be maximized.