Asbury Park Press, July 5, 2013
If you proudly buy locally grown vegetables for your stew, why not buy a U.S.-made slow cooker to cook them in?
You should, say Vincent Vittorio and Nathaniel Thomas McGill. And that idea is the core of the pair’s new documentary, American Made Movie. It’s a by-now-familiar film about the decline of American manufacturing and its impact on communities — but with a twist.
Instead of relying on trade barriers to protect manufacturing jobs, the film argues, Americans can tap into the same pride of place and craftsmanship farmers have used to fuel the movement toward locally grown food. Just as people will pay an extra $1 a pound for organic strawberries, Vittorio and McGill say the path to healthier U.S. manufacturing runs through persuading people to buy a $35 U.S.-made slow cooker even when a $25 import is available.
“Protectionism can be Republican or Democratic, and we weren’t out to make that kind of film,” Vittorio said. “Politics is always uncertain, but the role consumers play in the economy never changes.”
In a sense, the film, whose promotional tour begins today in suburban Atlanta, proposes a nationwide version of support-small-business campaigns that cities have run for years.
The filmmakers’ idea has elements of everything from American Express’ Small Business Saturdays campaign to the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, which urges Texans to patronize more-creative local bookstores, ice cream shops and other businesses competing with chains.
Research suggests that small-business and buy-local campaigns do work. In a survey of almost 2,400 small businesses, sales grew almost twice as fast last year for small businesses in communities with buy-local campaigns, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reported in February. Buy-local communities saw small business grow 8.6 percent on average, compared with 3.4 percent for other communities, the survey said.
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