9. Buying locally continues to gain ground
From small caterers pledging to cook only locally sourced foods to American Express' Small Business Saturday promotion, local businesses finally were in the spotlight in 2011.

As they should be. These businesses are run by some of the brightest and most innovative entrepreneurs and are bringing products and services to the world that, in many examples, could not be done by large corporations.

Bill Brunelle, spokesman for Independent We Stand, a nationwide movement encouraging consumers to shop local, says they didn't hesitate to partner with Amex on their Small Business Saturday initiative.

"More awareness of the benefits of shopping local benefits everyone, not just Amex. In fact, we'd love to see a Small Business '24-7/365' event to 'shop small' all year round," he says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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