When shoppers buy products from local, independently owned businesses, they contribute more to the well-being of their communities than when they shop at the national chains. That rationale led both Salt Lake's city and county mayors on Monday morning to vow to spend at least 10 percent of their personal holiday-shopping budgets at locally owned shops.

"We know you'll go online to shop," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "We know you'll shop the larger stores. ... But start with your local businesses and we'll all benefit in the long run."

During a news conference featuring the mayors and local business owners at The Children's Hour, a local specialty store near the corner of 900 East and 900 South in Salt Lake City, Becker said studies show that with local businesses, money is "regenerated much more" in the local community.

And Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said that the recession, while difficult for everyone, has hit particularly hard the smaller, independently owned businesses. That's why this shopping season is so vital to them and to the state.

This "Make the Local Gift Shift" campaign hopes to convince Utahns to spend at least 10 percent of their shopping dollars with the locals for the sake not only of the businesses, but of the state's economy, said Matt Monson, a local business owner and member of the Local First Utah coalition.

The coalition has more than 2,300 businesses, citizens and government partners across the state. Locally owned businesses are defined as those at least 51 percent locally owned and that make their decisions independently. The Utah group has been recognized as the largest and most active of its kind in the country.

Its free business directory, available at local stores, says that "a modest 10 percent shift by consumers from chain to local independent businesses returns millions in new economic activity, hundreds of new jobs and millions of new wages within a community." Its Web site proclaims that "up to three times more money stays here in Utah when you choose local over big box retailers and chains."

More information on the coalition is available at www.localfirst.org.

Potential benefits of buying local

If Utah's 2 million households spent 10 percent of their annual budgets at local businesses, according to Local First Utah, the results would be dramatic:

Creation of 20,000 new jobs, decreasing the state's unemployment by nearly 1 percent.

$2 billion worth of increased economic activity in Utah.

Formation of thousands of new entrepreneurial ventures.

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping of imported goods.

Revitalized local communities with unique businesses.