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RHINELANDER (WAOW) -
A Northwoods city is encouraging people to support its small businesses. Rhinelander officials launched the "I Buy Local" campaign to create awareness, and promote a networking opportunity for business owners.
Owning a small business in a down economy can be an uphill battle.
"Instead of serving 500 to 600, were serving 400 to 500," Rhinelander Cafe & Pub Owner Mark Gutteter said. That means cutting staff to make ends meet.
"To me, I buy local is a no-brainer concept," he said. It's a concept that more than 40 businesses have also gotten behind, thanks to a new campaign spearheaded by the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Rhinelander.
The goal: raise awareness about small businesses in the area and put a dent in the 27 million dollars that leave the community every year.
"We're trying to introduce you to the faces behind our businesses," Executive Director of the Rhinelander Chamber Lara Reed said.
The campaign kicked off this summer and will last for a year. Reed said the project can help business owners come together and learn from each other. "Having another resource and somebody to lean back on is a great thing," she said.
But will this campaign work? It's one of many across the country and even local leaders admit, it can be hard to gauge success. Reed hopes to assess business owners involved after the first six months, to try and see what's working and what's not.
Organizers said the next few months will be critical, because the summer tourism season is winding down. Business owners' livelihoods will depend on the people who live in the Northwoods full-time.
"The best repeat customers are the people that are living in your community," Gutteter said.
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