When I moved to Connecticut in 1984 all the banks¹ were Connecticut banks. Our phone company was Connecticut’s phone company. My local electric company was local too. None of them are any more.
We used to have regional chains–stores like Caldor and Ames and Rickel. They’re all gone now. Their business models were ineffective in the face of strong national competition.
To a national company Connecticut is a small state they’d rather not have to make exceptions for. We have become small fish in a big pond.
When local gives way to national we lose lots of peripheral benefits. With less in-state autonomy the managers here are at a lower level than their regionally governed predecessors. National companies taking advantage of economies of scale need fewer employees to accomplish the same job.
I’d like to think operators who live here are more responsive to local community needs too.
When business becomes national advertising dollars can bypass local outlets partially or entirely. Maybe you don’t miss that dumb Rickel jingle, but radio and TV stations sure do!
In this economic equation the lower cost structure of a national company is the leading indicator while reduced local employment and lower standard of living both lag behind. I think some of the economic malaise we’re seeing today relates to the nationwide placement of previously local business.
Where is the long term benefit to me and my neighbors as local disappears in favor of national?
I can’t imagine this turning around naturally. Who would ever start a mom and pop store or regional chain to compete with a national category killer like Home Depot or Walmart?
In the meantime it continues to get more and more difficult for businesses that used to thrive servicing regional operators. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s not over yet.
¹ – There were a very few exceptions to this rule.