There is a big sign on the wall of one of the local grocery chains proclaiming ‘locally owned’.
The chain is privately held (Mollie Stone’s). I have no idea who owns it. The ownership is not public. It was founded thirty years ago by two local men. If that were still the case the question of ‘local’ would be subject to the question of whether they have homes in vacation areas where they spend most of their time. The reality is that death will bring in family members who aren’t local. The buildings where the stores operate can certainly be owned by different people who are not local and the same is true for all sorts of equipment and facilities of the stores that are owned by banks and others.
‘Local’ is an ambiguous term, with warm and cuddly implications. Like 'organic' and 'sustainable'.
I wish McDonald’s and Target could use the phrase ‘locally owned’. Because they are. In a very real sense. Often the buildings are owned by local people. The local cluster of stores are owned by a franchisee. More importantly, the stocks for these global companies are owned by more than half the local population in their retirement funds. In a very deep sense they are locally owned, by far more locals than other businesses that call themselves locally owned.
More sophistication about business may mean less sentimentality about terms like ‘locally owned’. Money is fungible and doesn't stay in one place. Commerce is a positive sum world; sales anywhere brings in money from elsewhere.