Local First aims to strengthen local businesses


Photo by Sierra Savela

Local First is working to promote local businesses, protect the environment and develop meaningful relationships in the Grand Rapids area.

“Grand Rapids has such an awesome collection of local businesses that really care about this city and its people,” said Calvin alumna Catherine Kramer. “Local First is a great resource to find out about those businesses and learn more about the important role they serve in our community.”

The organization hopes to improve West Michigan in many ways, including events, a directory and a number of other resources.

“We lead the development of an economy grounded in local ownership that meets the basic needs of people, builds local wealth and social capital, functions in harmony with our ecosystem, and encourages joyful community,” reads Local First’s website.

Over 700 businesses in West Michigan are members of Local First. Membership is reciprocal, benefitting the business through Local First’s marketing and events and benefitting Local First through the business’s commitments to local economy and sustainability.

“A 2008 study of Kent County commissioned by Local First determined that just a 10 percent shift in consumer spending toward locally owned businesses would create $140 million in new economic activity, 1,600 new jobs, and $50 million in new wages,” reads the website.

“According to the research firm Civic Economics, when West Michigan consumers choose a locally owned business over a non-local alternative, 73 percent more money stays in the community.”

This weekend, Local First will be hosting one of their biggest events of the fall, Lakeshore Street Party. Similar to the Local First Street Party held in Grand Rapids in June, the Lakeshore Street Party in Holland is “a family-friendly celebration of local music, food and beverage,” according to the event website.

Local First will be hosting additional events throughout the fall, as well as their continuous Eat Local Challenge. More information can be found on the organization’s website, localfirst.com.