Shifting Money from Wall Street to Main Street How We Can Improve Fort Mill by Growing Deep Text by Lisa McTigue | Photos by Louis Roman
Fort Mill’s Main Street remains semi-dormant, but over the last decade, the town’s property values have increased. The town has a constant injection of upper-middle class families, a rapidly diminishing group in America, brought here for its top schools, tax rates, and proximity to Charlotte. While, a few square miles prosper the rest of the town fades away. Fort Mill and its newest residents have an opportunity to capture the influx of dollars and keep it in our local economy, so every square mile can flourish. The last few years, the idea of a Local Sustainable Economy has been sweeping the nation. What is a Local Sustainable Economy (LSE)? A LSE is more than buying local. It is the idea that a community comes together to service all of its needs from the feet up. An Ann Arbor, Michigan favorite, Zingerman’s Deli, has stood out as a model to follow. In the early 1990s, the deli was sitting on top. It’s owners Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig were at a cross-roads. Business was up, as Paul told the New York Times, “We’ve had dozens and dozens of opportunities to franchise, sell the name, take the check, and walk away.” But, for Paul and Ari, the old business school methodology didn’t suit them. Their vision wasn’t to be millionaires, they wanted to be successfully unique and provide the community with quality. Zingerman’s emphasis has always been high-quality service and food: fresh, healthy, and local. So, when they looked at all the options, they saw a way to service the community by growing deep through business diversification. Paul and Ari created Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB), essentially a collective of independent businesses co-founded by other local entrepreneurs. In order to become a part of ZCoB, a business has to service the needs of another ZCoB business. The first business created under ZCoB was a bakery.