Tucson’s historic Arizona Inn was the perfect setting for a breakfast with Local First Arizona’s Kimber Lanning, Tucson’s Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and 20 guests. A cozy fire greeted those attending which included representatives from the Arizona Daily Star, Caliber Group, Carondelet Health Network, Century Link, CyraCom International, Dependable Personnel, Diamond Ventures, Freeport-McMoRan, HSL Holdings, Hughes Federal Credit Union, Madden Media, Mahalo Properties, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Strongpoint Marketing, Sundt Construction and the Industrial Development Authority for the City of Tucson. Mayor Rothschild introduced Lanning, founder and executive director of the nonprofit coalition of local Arizona businesses, commenting that he had been fortunate to hear her speak several times and was appreciative of the work LFA is doing. Some of those attending were from member business already familiar with Local First Arizona, but for many it was their first exposure. LFA educates policymakers and the public about the economic impact of supporting local businesses. Lanning’s presentation won over the room and the response was overwhelmingly positive. “In Tucson there is already a very deep sense of community and connection to place," notes Lanning. LFA is encouraging people to empower themselves with purchasing locally whenever possible. “We are seeing an increased awareness around voting with your wallet," states Lanning.
The Q&A session that followed revealed some interesting things from the viewpoint of larger businesses in the Tucson community. One attendee said that as the representative of a Fortune 200 company, he is in support of local business and would like to do more procurement with local companies but frequently doesn’t know how to find them. He pointed out the difficulty in making those connections when local businesses aren’t aware of how to bid with large business and large businesses don’t have the time to spend seeking out local businesses that fit the job. Bill McDorman from Native Seeds/SEARCH cited the 2011 census statistic that Tucson is the 6th poorest large city in the nation and commented that what Local First Arizona is doing will help change that statistic.
Increasing spending with local, independent businesses keeps more money recirculating in the local economy and helps create jobs. Other companies specifically expressed an interest in having Local First come speak to their employees to spread the word about the importance of spending locally to keep local wages circulating to local business. LFA will gladly work with Tucson businesses of all sizes to help get the message out.
“Overall,” said Kimber, “we are thrilled with the progress we're making in Tucson, and the business community has been incredibly receptive. Our membership has grown 34% this year, and we expect 2014 to be a great year."
Get and stay in touch with us and please consider volunteering with Local First Arizona. Erika Mitnik-White is the new membership coordinator for Tucson and Southern Arizona. Call or email her: 520-628-2724, [email protected] Sign up for our business and/or consumer email newsletters here and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.