Buy Local – The Power of Location-Based Applications

On January 5, 2010, in Uncategorized, by Mike D. Merrill (@mikedmerrill)

Buy LocalAs I was driving into work today I heard a story on NPR (KERA) about how Farmers Branch, TX is promoting their Buy the Branch program to help keep taxes low. One of the gentleman they interviewed talked about how they are developing a retail database of all the Farmer’s Branch retail services available. First, I was surprised that this database didn’t already exist. Wouldn’t the Chamber of Commerce have a pretty comprehensive list already? Second, I wanted to let them know there are many online and mobile applications that already provide this type of information.

It’s no shocker that city governments across the US are facing a shortfall in taxes due to the economy and other demographic changes. All of this had me thinking about the power of mobile location-based applications for this type of initiative.

There are numerous location-based applications such as Gowalla, Foursquare, AroundMe, Yelp, etc.,  that offer the ability to find nearby restaurants, retail and services. However, what if there was an iPhone or Blackberry application for your city. As a resident of Plano, I would definitely want to ensure my taxes do not go up and would be willing to leverage an application that only showed Plano retailers, restaurants and services. What if the application also featured information about city services as well.

If I was an enterprising web or PR agency, I would partner with the City and Chamber of Commerce to build such an application for free as long as I could put my name on it and showcase my services. Of course, the city would be made responsible to maintain the database. Or what if I was a local Plano publication such as Plano Profile or the Dallas Morning News local version NeighborsGo who funded this based on the ability to feature advertisements. Talk about advertising at point of conversion! The City of Plano is losing revenue to new developments in Allen, Frisco and McKinney. Make it easy for residents to keep their dollars local.

There are tons of ideas around this concept. What are your thoughts on this?

 
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  • http://www.colinalsheimer.com/ Colin Alsheimer

    Great idea Mike! I'd like to see an app like that that helps me find the locally owned businesses vs. the national (or even regional) chains. I know I'd go out of my way to buy from them, especially if it meant it helped the local economy and kept taxes low at the same time.

  • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

    How cool would it be if the app listed local farmers markets or organically grown produce too!

  • http://www.colinalsheimer.com/ Colin Alsheimer

    Very cool! Especially if you had your own home produce garden, and you could list your produce to sell…. where's an app company when you need one!

  • http://twitter.com/Shama Shama Kabani (Hyder)

    Very interesting Mike. I think so far the trouble with location based apps is that the info is scattered. Google still rules the roost in terms of search. I can type in “restaurant 75006″ for example and find all the restaurants plus reviews in the area.

    But perhaps 2010 will be their year? : )

  • Ted Archer

    Mike, this looks like a job for amuse. http://www.texasstartupblog.com/

  • vharres

    Mike, you're a genius. I love this idea. Neighborsgo or DMN should jump on it. First get the city/chamber sold on it. I think J is going to contact you. He liked the idea too.

  • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

    Yes I agree Google Local has helped tremendously. However, an iPhone or web-based apps that's focused specifically on users finding local merchants has promise.

  • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

    Thx for the feedback Victoria. Chamber is really membership based, but there are tons of other listing services. Maybe this is where the waste of space phone book companies could evolve to.

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  • http://ericbrown.com ericbrown

    Great idea Mike.

    an other option? Open up a subscription based platform to allow the local businesses to list for an nominal fee. I do like Colin's idea of locally owned over chains too.

  • http://projectinnovation.net/ Winston Edmondson

    Reminds me of my Connected City initiative I proposed last year. I like it.

    http://electwinston.com/Lewisville_ConnectedCit

  • http://projectinnovation.net/ Winston Edmondson

    Reminds me of my Connected City initiative I proposed last year. I like it.

    http://electwinston.com/Lewisville_ConnectedCit

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  • http://facebook.com/innovate2educate Roakes

    This local concept is exactly what I am talking about regarding creating new revenue sources for school districts. I really like this article Mike. I will be posting this on my facebook page. I too believe social media sites can help our schools.

  • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://facebook.com/innovate2educate Roakes

    Time to “Tweet” the school budget. School districts can derive revenue from Twitter feeds. If kim kardashian can command $10,000 per tweet. Why can’t school district build a following of supporters and then have local biz advertise via the “district deals” feed? It is a community thing where everybody wins. Local school district (new revs) , Local Community (discounted deals and lower taxes), Local Businesses (new revs). We’re all in this together with this budget deficit fiasco from the state.

    Thanks this blog article just got me more fired up!

    Randy Oakes

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