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|About||We are here to strengthen local economies. We believe in championing diversity and inclusion.|
|Mission||Local First Arizona is a community and economic development organization working to strengthen local economies. LFA educates consumers about the interconnectedness of the economy, trains small businesses to be more effective and more competitive, helps larger Arizona businesses and institutions tell their story as champions of Arizona, and creates programs and events that make it fun and easy to discover local businesses and buy local.|
Kimber Lanning founded Local First Arizona in 2003 for two reasons: First, she saw too many bright young people leaving Arizona for more vibrant cities like Austin and Portland. She wanted to inspire others to stay in Arizona to help build a world class city. Secondly, Kimber thought the massive subsidies being given to chain stores were a raw deal for local businesses, and wanted to see Phoenix return to a climate where businesses had to pay their own way.
Kimber started LFA because she believed that locally owned businesses provided a unique environment that set communities across Arizona apart. She did an independent study, interviewing over 50 people who had relocated to Phoenix from Chicago, arguably a town with more community pride than any other. What she learned helped underscore her gut instinct, which was that people love Chicago because of the locally owned businesses. They might not have been able to identify their connection in those words, but what they told her was that they loved Chicago because of the chefs and restaurants, or because of the unique neighborhoods, each with distinct flavor, and unique shops. Or they may have said they love going into a business and knowing the owner, or that they had gone to the same barber for 20 years. Maybe they even said something like "I bank at the same bank my great grandparents banked at. I feel rooted to that community!”
But then that same person moves from Chicago to Phoenix and they throw their ‘localist’ behavior out the window. They eat at chain restaurants, shop at big box stores, and get their hair cut by whoever is at the national cutters that week. And they do this because they don’t know how to find the locals and it never occurs to them to look. The result is that they live here but don’t feel connected. They never put down roots, and surveys show that that they are less likely to vote, volunteer or donate to a charity. They are even less likely to pay their taxes.
The negative economic impact
Director Kimber Lanning awarded the International Economic Development Council's Citizen Leader of the Year Award - 2014
Director Kimber Lanning wins Phoenix Chamber of Commerce's Athena Award for the Public Sector - 2013
Director Kimber Lanning named Distinguished Citizen Planner by the Arizona Planning Association - 2013
Fuerza Local wins Stylos Award for Project of the Year - 2013
Local First Arizona wins Greater Tucson Leadership Award - 2013