Local First Arizona´s goal is simple: Make Arizona a better place by supporting locally owned businesses and building vibrant communities that residents are proud to call home.
Local First Arizona (LFA) is a statewide non-profit organization working to strengthen communities and local economies through growing, supporting, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout the state of Arizona.
We educate consumers, stakeholders, business leaders, and policymakers about the significant economic, civic, and cultural benefits of strong local economies. We build vibrant communities that make residents proud to call Arizona home. And when people are proud of their hometown, they tend to care more, to volunteer more, to vote more, and give more. They even cheer a little louder when the home team wins!
Consumers have grown leery of the false sense of savings promised by national chain stores and are becoming acutely aware of the homogenization of our communities. As a result, an explosion of sorts is occurring in Arizona and elsewhere as people look to define a sense of place, community, and quality of life for their families and their futures.
Studies have shown that money stays and re-circulates more often when spent at locally owned businesses. In addition, local businesses help increase home town pride which makes folks more connected to the place they live. And a recent Knight Foundation study showed “connection to place” as the single most leading indicator in places experiencing prosperity across a broad spectrum. At Local First Arizona, we want to build prosperity for all.
Arizona is hoping to position itself as a world-class entity that attracts and retains the most innovative jobs and workers in the country, and be a place that residents are proud to call home. Through the work of Local First Arizona (LFA) and our many partners throughout the state, Arizona is well on its way to achieving these goals and continuing on a path towards a strong and sustainable future.
Leaders in our larger cities across Arizona are recognizing that the next generation wants more walkability and stronger neighborhoods with sustainable lifestyles. LFA is working to encourage density, infill, and the adaptive reuse of existing buildings as ways to ensure sustainability in the current economic climate as well as in the future. Studies and surveys show that young people are choosing the cities they want to live in based on cultural interests, public transportation, and density. In order to remain nationally competitive and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for creating vibrant downtowns, Arizona's larger cities must re-examine their planning and building philosophies and focus on ways that encourage, rather than discourage, walkable neighborhoods with unique, one-of-a kind local businesses that make places feel like home.
Beyond the big cities, our rural communities are banding together to brand themselves as world class travel and tourism destinations and are seeing amazing results. From our burgeoning wine country and outdoor adventures to our Western ghost towns and expanding culinary scenes, tourists are flocking to our beautiful state and locals are learning to explore the amazing opportunities in their own backyard. With Arizonans spending $6 billion annually vacationing in California, there is great opportunity to keep many of those dollars circulating in the local Arizona economy through promotion of our unique communities and adventures that lie within our own state's borders.
This is just a snapshot into how Local First Arizona is working in every corner of the state to create, advance, and take advantage of the multitude of opportunities for economic development, community building, and place-making. Check out all that we accomplished last year in our End-of-Year-Report.
LFA is currently the largest organization of its kind in the country with nearly 2,500 members and is a proud member of the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE), where our director, Kimber Lanning, serves on the Board of Directors. As a non-profit network of local, independently owned Arizona businesses and supporters, we facilitate sustainable economic development by providing:
Facilitating technical assistance for businesses, consumers, and policymakers that builds our community’s capacity to participate in the opportunities of a sustainable economy.
For businesses: Engaging in promotion and market development that opens opportunities for sustainable economy businesses.
For individuals and families: The economy isn't something far away that someone else is going to fix for us! WE ARE the economy and we can fix it ourselves if we spend money like we want to create jobs and local wealth. Spending with independently owned businesses instead of publicly traded companies keeps more money close to home and builds prosperity for many people instead of only a few.
Founded in 2003, Stinkweeds owner, Kimber Lanning, along with Cindy Dach of Changing Hands Bookstore and Michael Monti of Monti’s La Casa Vieja began meeting to formulate a strategy to level the playing field for locally owned businesses, and to find a better way to link the locals together.
Lanning emerged as the Executive Director in late 2005. A board of directors was formed with several local business owners and leaders including Dach, Tod Mettler of Duck and Decanter, Howard Fleishmann of Community Tire and Auto, Stacy Bertinelli of NPR Radio, Jeff Williamson of the Phoenix Zoo, and Clint Hickman of Hickman’s Family Farms. This group met monthly at the Duck and Decanter on 16th Street and began to build a following. Lanning sold one of her businesses in 2007 to dive into the organization 110%.