Business Development and Placemaking

In this section learn more about Local First Arizona’s initiatives, signature events and programs that are all centered around making Arizona a better place by supporting locally owned businesses and building vibrant communities that residents are proud to call HOME.



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View more about our Business Coalition in our Education section or our Advocacy and Outreach section.


General Membership & Fuerza Local  

At Local First Arizona, our primary goal is to make Arizona a better place by supporting locally owned businesses and building vibrant communities that residents are proud to call home. One of the main ways we work to achieve this goal is direct support of local businesses through our local business coalition. Now at more than 2,700 members strong, the coalition offers members a forum to come together and collaborate on common goals, a platform to promote themselves to a wider audience, and a variety of opportunities and programs to gain important skills and resources to better operate their businesses. 

Within Local First Arizona’s business coalition is Fuerza Local, an initiative aimed at bringing the Buy Local message to Spanish-speaking communities. The Latino business community is a significant factor in the health of Arizona’s overall economy, and it is important to engage this vital group in the conversation about supporting local businesses and keeping our dollars in Arizona’s local economy. Fuerza Local holds regular membership events to connect Spanish-speaking business owners in the community. 

Local First Arizona hosted over 50 networking events for LFA business coalition members across the state. One of our primary goals is fostering collaboration among local businesses, and our mixers offer a great way for owners and representatives of local businesses to connect with one another. Once these individuals connect and form relationships, they are more likely to do business with one another, keeping more dollars circulating in the local economy. 

2015 Business Membership By The Numbers 

  • Total Southern Arizona Members: 501 
  • Total Northern Arizona Members: 203 
  • Total Fuerza Local Members: 85 
  • Total Members Overall: 2,740 

Top 10 Membership Categories 

  • Food & Dining 
  • Business Services 
  • Shopping & Retail 
  • Entertainment/Arts 
  • Agriculture/Food Production 
  • Communications/Media 
  • Not For Profit 
  • Home & Garden 
  • Construction/Repairs 
  • Health/Medicine

Noble Beast

“Getting involved with Local First Arizona has been beneficial to Noble Beast in so many ways: we’ve made the news through media referrals, learned how to reach out to customers, and met wonderful colleagues...”
— Marsha Vallee & Alison Chandler Owners, Noble Beast

Localist Membership

The Localist program is Local First Arizona’s individual membership program, a way for individuals to hold a stake in the Buy Local movement and have fun while supporting local businesses. Throughout the year, Local First Arizona curates exclusive events, experiences, and opportunities for Localists to connect with each other and the community, in turn spurring economic activity with local businesses across the state.

By connecting Localist members to other individuals and local businesses in their communities, they will experience a more defined sense of place. An extensive Knight Foundation study titled "Soul of the Community' demonstrated that a strong connection to place was the main indicator of prosperity in a communities across the country. The Localist program works to create prosperity throughout Arizona by inspiring individuals to be proud to call Arizona home, to put down roots here, and to increase their civic engagement in building their community. Great places are built by people who love their place. 


Unique 26 Localist Experiences 

I believe in supporting the local economy, and I would like to see more local businesses succeed. Plus, I love the social aspect of it too. As a Localist I’m always meeting new people and trying new things!
— Lora Dalbo, Localist
There is no doubt that our Cibo Localist event turned out to be the event of the year for us...the localists who participated in our “wine tasting through Italy” event were the perfect crowd, smart, fun, curious and passionate about their local community.
— Michael Krassner, Cibo


Savor Southern Az Food + Wine Festival

Southern Arizona Food + Wine Festival is the region's premier annual culinary event. Restaurant and vendor participation nearly doubled from the previous year, featuring over 75 local restaurants, food purveyors, wineries, breweries and exhibitors. The success of Savor marks Southern Arizona's growth as a culinary arts destination which will promote local and national tourism as well as cultivate community pride. Savor also helps to keep more dollars circulating in the local food and dining economy by introducing consumers to local restaurants they may not otherwise know about. 

This year’s highlights: 

  • Over 1,000 attendees 
  • 91% of ticket holder survey respondents said they would attend the event again 
  • Over 75 food and beverage participants 
Whether you are a foodie, a wine or brew enthusiast, a devotee of desert gardening, a would-be philanthropist, Savor Food & Wine Festival offers the perfect opportunity to savor the distinctive flavors of Southern Arizona.
— Lori Nannini, Arizona Daily Star

Devour Phoenix

Restaurants are the heart and soul of every great city.

Devour Phoenix is Local First Arizona’s city-wide coalition of select, independent restaurants that work together to maintain a forum for sharing ideas, purchasing power, and marketing dollars to advance Phoenix as a world class dining destination with a robust local food economy. Devour Phoenix shares resources to strengthen and grow restaurants in Phoenix, and manages and hosts events such as the Devoured Culinary Classic and fun, educational, food-oriented events like dessert socials and brewery tours that strengthen business and build awareness of our top tiered chefs and dining establishments. Additionally, Devour Phoenix identifies and encourages the use of local agriculture, artisans, and distributors as a means for increasing sustainability in the region. 

Devour Phoenix is a team of great chefs and restaurateurs working together, under the Local First umbrella, to build a sense of place and provide a unique identity for Phoenix that increases hometown pride, drives tourism dollars, and strengthens our state's overall food system. 

Devour Phoenix Gift Card  

Devour Phoenix’s eGift Card is redeemable at 35 locations of Phoenix’s best local restaurants. It is a quick, easy, and affordable solution for individuals or businesses looking for a unique gift idea for any occasion. The cards are easy to order online in any denomination ranging from $10 – $100, and can be printed or emailed as gifts. An alternative to standard gift cards to big box retailers, the Devour Phoenix eGift Card offers consumers an alternative that keeps dollars in the local economy but gives gift card recipients an option for where to spend their gift, all while supporting the local restaurant culture and the local economy. 

Total Devour Phoenix Gift Card Sales in 2015: $23,980

Devoured Week

Devoured Culinary Classic

The Devoured Culinary Classic, founded on the idea that food can bring people together, is the region’s premier annual culinary event that has grown into a week-long celebration. This 6th annual event showcased the state’s fine food and drink producers while furthering metro Phoenix as a dining destination worthy of international prestige. The Devoured Culinary Classic is an amazing opportunity to shine the spotlight on the culinary curators and purveyors who support the Arizona food, beverage and restaurant industries. Attendees had the chance to partake in innovative culinary demonstrations, meet top chefs and restaurateurs as well as taste an enormous array of culinary excellence from the region’s best chefs, restaurants, local food artisans, brewers, and vintners. 

The Devoured Culinary Classic highlights the culinary talent here in Arizona and helps drive local and national tourism, contributing to Arizona’s claim as a food and dining destination. In 2015 the event sold out for the third consecutive year and was named a finalist in the Arizona Restaurant Association’s Foodist Awards as well as crowned the 2015 Best Culinary Festival by the Phoenix New Times.

Devoured Bartending Competition 

To celebrate Phoenix’s cocktail culture, “Startenders” from eight Devour Phoenix restaurants armed themselves with locally distilled spirits from Arizona Distilling Company at the Crescent Ballroom for a mix-off of epic proportions. This year’s event saw the highest attendance yet, drawing 528 attendees to enjoy nine locally-inspired craft cocktails from some of the best local restaurants and bars in the Phoenix Metro area. The big win this year went to Citizen Public House’s Brandon Casey, with his moonshine cocktail, the “Springtime Shine.” 

A ‘Toward Zero Waste’ plan implemented during the event diverted 200 gallons of recyclables from the landfill. 

Palette to Palate 

To add to the culinary excitement, Local First Arizona added another event to the Devoured Culinary Classic week celebration. Palette to Palate is an event that blends the visual arts and culinary arts by pairing chefs and painters to interpret each other’s work for a show that is at once unique and insightful into the worlds of the two artists. This year’s Palette to Palate featured five artists paired with five chefs and offered attendees an intimate culinary experience. 

Devour Phoenix Members 

  • Barrio Cafe 
  • Barrio Urbano 
  • Beckett’s Table
  • Binkley’s Restaurant Group 
  • Bliss/reBAR 
  • The Breadfruit & Rum Bar Café at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market
  • Cibo 
  • Cocina 10 at Crescent Ballroom 
  • Corduroy 
  • Crudo
  • Federal Pizza
  • FEZ 
  • The Gladly
  • green Vegetarian
  • Hana Japanese Eatery
  • Hula’s Modern Tiki
  • Humble Pie
  • Joyride Taco House
  • Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails
  • Otro Cafe
  • Parlor Pizzeria
  • Phoenix City Grille
  • Pizza People Pub
  • Postino WineCafe
  • Rollover Doughnuts
  • Short Leash Hot Dogs
  • Sierra Bonita Grill
  • Southern Rail
  • St. Francis
  • Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • Tammie Coe Cakes
  • Urban Beans Cafe & Bar
  • Tuck Shop
  • The Larder + The Delta
  • The Vig
  • Vovomeena
  • Windsor/Churn

Certified Local Fall Festival

Our 11th Annual Certified Local Fall Festival was the biggest yet with an expanded beverage garden, many vendors, and an estimated 12,000 attendees. Families enjoyed various activities brought by local business vendors, including face painting, a bounce house, lawn games, a musical instrument petting zoo, and much more. The event brought the community out to connect with each other and with local business owners from around the state.

Studies show that when citizens feel more connected to their community, home, and place, those communities see higher incidents of civic engagement and social philanthropy. Furthermore, a recent Knight Foundation study which shows “connection to place” as the single-most leading indicator in places that have prosperity. The Certified Local Fall Festival is one way Local First Arizona is helping Arizonans feel more connected to this state and inspiring them to be proud to call Arizona home. 

This year Local First Arizona was able to implement a ‘Toward Zero Waste’ plan which diverted a total of 58% of all waste from the landfill. LFA recycled 1,100 pounds of material with the City of Phoenix and 442 pounds of food and paper waste with composting partners, Recycled City. 

2015 By The Numbers

Gift Bags

  • 100+ local vendors consisting of restaurants, food trucks, retailers, services and non-profits
  • 26 breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the Hensley Beverage Garden
  • 500 free gift bags given away
  • 141 donated items from Local First AZ members for the raffle
  • 148 donated items from Local First AZ members for the silent auction
  • 55 new & renewing Localist memberships sold
  • 442 pounds of compostable waste diverted away from the landfill
  • Nearly 1,100 pounds of recyclable material diverted away from the landfill
An amazing Fall Festival! Layout was perfect, great crowd, and the businesses all took such pride in being there. Nice work! I’m honored to be a part of it.
— David Tyda, Phoenix Pizza Festival LFA Member and 2015 Participant

What Does An Event This Size Take To Implement?

  • A passionate Local First Arizona team
  • 121 Local First Arizona volunteers dedicating over 425 hours of service
  • 37 generous title, community, activity and media sponsors
  • A supportive community that is proud to call Arizona home  
Of all events I’ve ever been a part of, the 2015 Fall Festival was the most organized, well-planned one I have attended. I had access to everything I needed and knew where everything was including ice, cups, and supplies. I feel as though I am a part of a community and larger movement.
— Sam Pillsbury, Pillsbury Wine Comany LFA Member and 2015 Participant