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Nationwide initiative aims to keep economy running through local businesses

A plan to bring brick and mortar businesses back to the forefront of consumers' minds, is one Cinda Baxter hopes will save local economies.

Baxter founded The 3/50 Project, a nationwide initiative that has begun to spread like wildfire.

Her story began last March, when she wrote a blog in response to another blog written by Rieva Lesonsky, consulting editor of BizWomen.com.

Lesonsky's blog was in regard to a story she heard on the radio about a man who decided to only patron at stores where he could walk in and actually speak to the owner.

"What happened by the end of the summer is he found he was eating at the same three restaurants all the time," Baxter explained.

Baxter's response on her blog, "Always Upward," was simply telling people to shop at three stores a month, spending $50 amongst them - advice that if half the employed population followed it, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue.

"I thought maybe a dozen of my friends who own retail stores around the country will jump on this," Baxter recalled after writing her blog post.

However, a week after posting her blog, Baxter decided to post fliers which would briefly explain the concept of "pick three, spend $50," to which she only anticipated half of her dozen or so friends would actually print.

"Well, what happened is all of a sudden it went viral," she said. "People were not only downloading the flier, but they were e-mailing to everybody they know. Within the first 48 hours, I had over 350 e-mails from total strangers saying, 'This is great. What else have you got?'"

Now, less than a year later, Baxter has a Web site up and running to promote The 3/50 Project, which allows "brick and mortar" businesses to sign up, free of charge, as either an independent or a supporter.

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