One of the questions I have been getting a lot of lately is why I decided to open Balefire and why I chose Olde Town Arvada. There are a lot of personal and lifestyle reasons behind my decision, not least of which is the desire to work more local, work with physical goods, interact with people in person, and to get reconnected with my artistic and creative side.
However, this company is not my first rodeo and is actually my 4th company I have started or owned and there had to be a business case for what I wanted to create and where it would be located. Below are some of the business minded and concrete reasons that businesses like Balefire are important and valuable to our communities.
Impact of the Arts
The arts and cultural sectors contributed over $763.6 billion to the US economy and employed almost 5 million people in 2015. $13.7 billion of that was in Colorado, meaning that the arts made more money in Colorado than Transportation or Mining that year. Additionally, there are more people working in the arts in the US than there are lawyers. The arts are big business and are important to a thriving economy.
Not only do the arts contribute greatly to our economy in direct ways, but they also have a positive impact on other industries, such as making an area more attractive to tourists and spurring greater spending by tourists in the community, in addition to fostering further growth in the creative industries.
Impact of the Small Businesses
The “local multiplier” means when you spend money with small, local merchants, you are investing back into your community. Jeff Milchen, writing for the American Independent Business Alliance said: “Dollars spent at community-based merchants create a multiplier in the local economy, meaning that from each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, 2 to 3.5 recirculates in the local economy compared to a dollar spent at chain-owned businesses.” That is definitely true for Balefire Goods. Many of our artists are local, but in addition we work with other local professionals for our taxes, marketing, design, legal, cleaning, and other services. That means that the money you spend with us goes back to others in the community that then continue that cycle.
Small businesses also positively impact their communities through greater involvement and awareness of community issues and opportunities. Owners of small business are more aware of the impacts of their decisions on their community and can play a greater and more informed role in supporting and shaping their communities. These owners are often more involved in local policies, community organizations such as the chamber, and work with local nonprofits. That is definitely true of our efforts at Balefire where we regularly work with nonprofits in our shop or by participating in fundraisers and other events.
Impact of Dynamic Shopping Areas
Areas like Olde Town in Arvada are key to a thriving and healthy neighborhood. Speaking about the results of a 14 year study by American Express, Susan Sobbott, president, American Express OPEN had this to say: “This research validates what we know intuitively—small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. There is concrete evidence that thriving independent neighborhoods lead to higher real estate values and more local jobs.”
In addition to improving the economic situation in their communities, areas like Olde Town are also better for the environment and are being cited as smart growth places that decrease urban sprawl while they have positive impacts on things like air quality. Additionally, these areas tend to attract a robust labor force and increase productivity and innovation because of the walkable nature of the area’s ability to increase quality of life and social engagement.
I am excited about being a part of Olde Town and Arvada as a whole. We are lucky to have such engaged and active communities in the arts and entrepreneurial realms along with a charming Olde Town area. The combination of all the current and emerging benefits of being a business in Arvada, including the creativity of its people and the support of organizations like the Chamber, seem to point toward a future full of opportunities and growth. I forward to where Balefire takes me and to be crafting that future in Arvada.