Local Business Alliance Changes Name, Identity
Around the country, businesses and individuals are coming together to support local living economies. Milwaukee’s initiative was started in 2006 by a group of eight independent businesses who named their group Our Milwaukee. Today the organization is 187 members strong and is announcing a new name and greater focus on reaching out to area consumers, calling themselves Local First Milwaukee.
“When we first met, it was just some local businesses wondering how we could work to support each other. The organization grew out of those conversations,” said Local First Board President, Pam Mehnert. Mehnert is General Manager of Outpost Natural Foods, a founding member of Our Milwaukee. The name served its purpose to bring a sense of community to the organization.
“Over time though, we realized we are really about getting people of the Milwaukee area to think local first whenever they make a purchasing decision. Because when you shop independent, locally-owned businesses or support local nonprofits, more of your money stays in the communities where you live,” according to Mehnert.
This statement is backed by studies done for members of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), of which Local First Milwaukee is a member. When a consumer shops at a local store, 68 cents stays in their community, versus 43 cents for a chain store. That is a quarter MORE per dollar.
Local First Milwaukee has multiple goals:
• To provide a place for members to network and learn from each other
• To support members through marketing and other programs
• To educate the public about the importance of supporting local first
Outpost Natural Foods is helping spread the LOCAL FIRST message with a $20,000 grant to the organization. This money will be used to upgrade the Local First Milwaukee website and initiate other efforts to effectively reach the community with the local first message.
Mehnert, among other members of Local First Milwaukee, are pledging to do the majority of their own holiday shopping this year at local member businesses. “A few years ago I was able to spend about 80% of my holiday shopping locally. This year I’m going for 90%”, said Mehnert. “It’s all about leading by example.”
to learn more about the local first movement, including 10 reasons to buy local.
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