On the basis that it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness, the Belfast Media Group, across all its newspapers and websites this week launches a citywide Buy Local Campaign.

We do so because we believe that small businesses, rooted in our communities, provide the most effective path out of the economic morass in which our readers find themselves.

Small businesses — employing less than 10 people — make up over 95 per cent of our business sector.

They don’t shift halfway around the world when the harsh economic winds blow nor do exist for the quick buck. They are here for the long term, investing carefully for the future and giving back to their customers on the basis that their wellbeing is interlocked the health of the community they serve.

And the Buy Local Campaign — which has taken fire across these islands and in the US —  isn’t wooly-headed sentimentality. Irish economist Jim Power has proven that a pound spent locally generates £1.50 in additional spend.  If we want to keep our neighbourhood shopping hubs alive — and some such as the Lisburn Road and Falls Road are under enormous pressure — we need to use our purchasing power wisely.

Spend your hard-earned money with a local shop or service and that money will go round the local economy — helping others — several times. Buy online from a vast conglomerate or in a out-of-town superstore and your cash will be sucked out of the economy to service multi-national operations in New York or Zurich or London.

Not only do we commend you to shop local but we’re content to give you eight indisputable reasons why it’s good to do so:

1. Nurture Community: Those who own and work in local shops, services and businesses also live in, and contribute to, our communities; if they prosper so do we all.

2. Create Jobs: Boost local job creation. Locally-owned businesses create more jobs locally — jobs for the long-term and with proper terms and conditions. These are the jobs we want to foster.

3. Boost Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is the key to reviving our local economy; every small business owner or small retailer is an entrepreneur. By backing them, you’re bolstering the very backbone of our local economy.

4. Bigger bang for your buck: Work your money harder: For every £10 spent locally, £15 is generated in related multiple transactions.

5. Protect our Identity: Build community character. Locals and visitors alike love this city and its neighbourhoods because they are unique. Spoil them with cookie-cutter mega-stores and bland multinational brands and you lose what makes us special.

6. Go Green: Help the environment. Local business owners tend to set up shop in local, walkable business districts and road fronts. You travel shorter distances, often by foot or bike, to do business with them.

7. Have More Choices: The more local businesses in the market, the greater the range of choice and prices. Force the small guys and gals out of business and the multinationals will have total control over price and product.

8. Pride: Local owners are passionate about their customers — after all they are our neighbours. They look after their customers better, provide them with expert information and tips and take a pride in their communities.

The Belfast Media Group is taking the lead but we can only succeed if our readers also get involved. Sign our online petition, display the campaign posters and car stickers and, most of all, buy local.