Tag Archives: Local First Arizona


First Pizza Festival in Arizona comes to Civic Space Park

On November 21, Arizona residents will begin their holiday eating binge one week early and indulge in the first Phoenix Pizza Festival on the Saturday before Thanksgiving from 11am to 5pm. Taking place at Civic Space Park in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Phoenix Pizza Festival will benefit Local First Arizona, an organization that champions local business ownership and consumer support of those businesses.

Approximately 15 pizza makers will come together and serve $2 slices, full pies, and everything in between to a crowd of about 2,500 attendees. Some participants to date include: Fabio on Fire, Focoso, Charred, il Bosco, Saffron JAK, Grand Avenue Pizza Company, Doughlicious, Rosati’s, Whiskey Ranch Grill, Authentic Pizza Ovens, and others.

Craft beer and wine tasting stations, fun lawn games, dessert vendors, and live bands will add to the pizza enjoyment. Expect beer from local makers such as the new Wren House Brewing and Sonoran Brewing Company, and wines by Chronic Cellars, Chateau La Paws, Woodwork, and others. A kid’s craft zone will round out the fun. Since the holiday shopping season kicks off later that week, the event will also include a local business vendor marketplace so attendees can shop for gifts while supporting local business.

 Tickets and details are available at www.phoenix.pizza
devour phoenix

Details announced for 2016 Devoured Culinary Classic

Presented in partnership with Local First Arizona, Devour Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, the Devoured week of events featuring the seventh annual Devoured Culinary Classic will run from February 28 through March 6. The week long celebration of food and drink returns with an all-star lineup of local chefs, culinarians, winemakers, brewmasters, and mixologists.

The main event, the Devoured Culinary Classic, will be held on Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6, at Phoenix Art Museum, where the Dorrance Sculpture Garden will come alive with food, wine, and cocktail tastings, cooking demonstrations and interactive stations where attendees will have a unique opportunity to meet and interact with local Arizona chefs.

Tickets for the seventh annual Devoured Culinary Classic will go on sale in limited release on Monday, December 7, and to the public on Monday, December 14. Tickets will be available for purchase at devouredphoenix.com/tickets. Tickets for the 2016 Devoured Culinary Classic are available in several package options:

  • Beginning on Monday, December 7, 2015, Phoenix Art Museum Members and Local First Arizona Localists can purchase tickets a week before the general public at a rate of $89 for a single day ticket or $159 for a two-day ticket. Phoenix Art Museum Members can purchase tickets by calling 602-257-2124. Localists can purchase tickets by calling 602-956-0909 ext. 1 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, December 7 through Friday, December 11.
  • Tickets for the general public will be available for sale on Monday, December 14 at devouredphoenix.com/tickets. Tickets options include Single Day General Admission ($99), Two-Day General Admission ($179), and Single Day VIP ($150).

VIP ticket holders will have exclusive access to the general tasting area a full hour before General Admission ticket holders. VIP benefits also include access to private VIP lounge areas featuring exclusive chef access, menu tastings, and cocktail samplings.

The Devoured Culinary Classic will once again feature interactive chef demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday. These interactive demos, featuring Devour Phoenix chefs, will teach attendees how to master specific food and cocktail recipes as the chefs share their personal tricks and tips in the kitchen. Attendees will be able to sample what demonstrators have prepared while enjoying refreshingly cold drinks. Demonstrations are open to all ticketed attendees.

A star-studded collection of sommeliers, beverage directors, mixologists and craft beer experts round out the Devoured Culinary Classic line-up, including a diverse collection of wine from Quench Fine Wines. A full list of programming and participating restaurants will be announced on a rolling basis beginning November 1, 2015. Please visit devouredphoenix.com for more information.

Devoured Culinary Classic ticket holders will also have the opportunity to explore Phoenix Art Museum’s exhibitions including Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane – Masterpiece Drawings from the Casa Buonarroti.

The Devoured Culinary Classic will once again feature two pre-festival events; Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition and Palette to Palate. These events are each ticketed separately.

The Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition will kick off the week of events at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday February 28, a location for this event will be announced at a later date. Designed to celebrate Phoenix’s cocktail culture, “startenders” from nine metro-Phoenix bars and restaurants armed with a selection of Arizona’s best locally distilled spirits convene for a mix-off of epic proportions. Participating bartenders will go head to head in a series of three rounds, shaking it to compete for the title of Best Cocktail of the Valley for 2016. Tickets will be $35 each.

Palette to Palate will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 3 at the Renaissance Hotel Phoenix Downtown. The event 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. The evening will feature Arizona wines and award winning chefs, paired with regional artists who will unveil new works at the event. Tickets will be $40 each.



National leaders of localist movement gather in Phoenix

Phoenix, home to the largest local business association in the world, has no shortage of progressive-minded entrepreneurs. But this week the city will welcome about 700 more.

The 2015 BALLE Conference—the world’s largest gathering of local business owners—will convene in downtown Phoenix from June 10-12. Its attendees will exchange ideas about human-scale economies, community capital, shared ownership, civic-minded innovation and other concepts important to the localist movement.

BALLE (pronounced “bolly”) stands for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. It’s a nonprofit that works to identify and connect pioneering leaders, spread solutions and attract investment toward local economies. Its website describes the annual conference as a “national forum for visionary local economy connectors who are making a difference in their communities.”

One such “visionary connector” is Kimber Lanning, the founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, the aforementioned largest local business association in the world. Lanning, whose grassroots organization counts more than 2,600 local business members and 1,000 individual members, is board secretary of BALLE and played a large role in bringing its 2015 conference to Phoenix.

“Phoenix is a hub for independent entrepreneurship and innovation, and we’re proud to be hosting the international BALLE Conference,” Lanning said. “The BALLE Conference offers a truly transformational experience with speakers and new economy leaders from around the world who will share best practices for supporting strong, resilient and diverse economies.”

Lanning is one of more than 70 localist-movement leaders who will speak at this week’s conference, which will utilize Orpheum Theatre, Arizona State University’s downtown campus, the A.E. England Building and Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Other featured speakers include Matt Stinchcomb, the executive director of the peer-to-peer e-commerce website Etsy; Ramón León, the founder, president and CEO of the Latino Economic Development Center; David Levine, co-founder and CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council; and Tyler Norris, vice president of Total Health Partnerships at Kaiser Permanente.

The theme of the 2015 BALLE Conference is “What’s Working Locally.”

Devita Davison, the co-director of FoodLab Detroit, will talk about how communities can benefit from empowering low-income entrepreneurs of color, and St. Louis-born hip-hop artist T-Dubb-O will discuss his evolution from rapper to community activist.

“From rebuilding Detroit’s 10,000 abandoned buildings into a vibrant healthy food system to economists exploring what’s beyond capitalism, this conference is for everyone interested in local and global solutions for our increasingly challenging world,” Lanning said.

The conference gets underway Wednesday morning with an “adaptive-reuse tour” of downtown and midtown Phoenix that visits businesses created from the reuse of both historic and modern buildings. Attendees also will be given the chance to see Phoenix’s burgeoning urban agriculture industry.

“The BALLE Conference is another example of the role face-to-face meetings play in fostering better communities and driving business success,” said Steve Moore, president and CEO of Visit Phoenix.

“A couple of weeks ago, thousands of the world’s top wireless engineers—from China, Germany, South Korea—filled downtown Phoenix,” Moore said. “This week, the localist movement’s thought leaders, from places as diverse as Detroit and Appalachia, are here to share their successes and best practices. Events like these turn downtown into a learning campus, and bring innovators and entrepreneurs from the knowledge industry right to our doorstep.”

Small Business

Local First Arizona will celebrate National Independents Week

In recognition of National Independents Week, Local First Arizona will honor locally owned and independent businesses across the state from Saturday, June 27, through Sunday, July 5. The nationwide Independents Week campaign, coordinated by the American Independent Business Alliance and known as “Indie Week,” takes place during the week of Independence Day with the purpose of enlightening consumers to the importance of supporting local businesses.

“Independence Day is a time for us to reflect on what makes our state and country great,” says Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First Arizona. “Arizona’s independent business community is the backbone of our local economy and the driving force behind what makes us proud to call Arizona home. Up to four times more money stays in the local economy when consumers choose an independent business over a national chain. Independents Week is our way of drawing attention to the important role independent businesses play in our daily lives.”

This year’s Independents Week will feature the return of the Golden Coupon, an Independents Week contest with great prizes, fun events with local businesses across the state, and much more: 

Arizonans are encouraged to “Take the Pledge” to shop local during Indie Week. Indie Week presents the perfect opportunity for consumers to visit any one of the many participating stores that they may not have otherwise known about or that they have wanted to try – all while spending locally and saving money. Anyone can take the pledge by visiting http://localfirstaz.com/independents-week/ and filling out the simple form. Pledgers can choose to publicly have their names listed on the Local First Arizona website. Those who take the pledge will be entered in a raffle to win a satiation package to a unique Arizona destination.

The popular Golden Coupon is the ticket to saving 20% off purchases from hundreds of locally owned establishments including auto repairs, home furnishing stores, boutiques, florists, restaurants, yoga studios, nurseries, and more (a list of participating businesses will be available at http://localfirstaz.com/independents-week/ in early June). Individuals can simply print out the Golden Coupon from the LFA website and use it at as many participating locations as they please, or download the coupon on their smart phone.

Several events will take place across the state during Independents Week to celebrate our local businesses with community members, including a pub crawl, a bowling tournament, a gallery exhibition, beer dinners, and more to come! 

More information will be made available at http://localfirstaz.com/independents-week/ in the coming months.


Lanning Receives Economic Development Leadership Award

Kimber Lanning, Executive Director of Local First Arizona, was awarded the Citizen Leadership Award by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for her extraordinary commitment in promoting economic development.  The honor was presented on Tuesday, October 21, during IEDC’s Annual Conference in Fort Worth, TX.

“The Citizen Leadership Award celebrates a community or business leader, or an individual who is not an economic development specialist, but who plays a major leadership role in economic development pursuits,” said William C. Sproull, IEDC chair. “Ms. Lanning is a fine example of such an individual.”

A longtime leader in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Kimber Lanning began her career as a successful entrepreneur and currently serves as Executive Director of Local First Arizona. Her enthusiasm in supporting local businesses and community culture has shaped her career and helped transform the city.

“This award is a milestone in a changing economy, one that is now recognizing the work of Local First Arizona and other Local First initiatives as a viable part of economic development.” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Kimber can proudly accept this award on behalf of everyone working to create sustainable, resilient, diverse, and vibrant local economies in their own communities.”

Witnessing the adverse effects of local businesses departing from her community, Ms. Lanning took a different approach towards economic development when she opened an art gallery in a blighted area in central Phoenix. Her dedication to her business and neighborhood attracted other small business owners to the area and inspired a neighborhood transformation. Lanning’s willingness to contribute energy, creative event planning, and economic development strategies led to the reduction of crime in the area by 62 percent, created over 135 full time jobs, and provided immeasurable community pride.

In 2003, Ms. Lanning launched Local First Arizona in an effort to inspire others to stay in Phoenix to help build a world-class city.  She knew that in order to encourage residents to feel connected and rooted to the area, a climate needed to be cultivated so that local businesses could compete against chain stores and large companies. Ms. Lanning developed a specific strategy to gain the traction needed to move the needle on Arizona’s economy. She streamlined the City of Phoenix’s Adaptive Reuse program, which was so cumbersome that it was preventing small businesses from opening. Ms. Lanning’s pilot program was a success and is now encouraged citywide. Because of her persistence, Phoenix’s overall economic strategy now includes small businesses that have important connections to the community.

Ms. Lanning’s innovative small business and entrepreneurial programs have proven to be highly successful. She went to work on the state’s procurement procedures, transforming them from a “low-bid wins” policy to a focus on selecting local contracts. She also created a Spanish language initiative and the Fuerza Local Accelerator Program to assist and encourage low-income Latinos in entrepreneurial endeavors.

Because of Ms. Lanning’s leadership of Local First Arizona, the organization is now the largest locally owned business coalition in North America with over 2,600 business members large and small. Most importantly, the local business community reported sales were up 8.1% in 2013, almost twice the national average. In 2013, Ms. Lanning shared Local First Arizona’s success with rural communities surrounding Phoenix by incorporating the Arizona Rural Development Council and encouraging sustainable development in rural communities through an annual Rural Policy Forum.

Kimber Lanning is actively and enthusiastically involved in fostering cultural diversity, economic self-reliance, and responsible growth for the Phoenix metropolitan area. She has come to economic development via unconventional means but quickly demonstrated to her community that her ideas and programs work.

“The successes of Local First Arizona over the last decade have underscored the broad range of strategies that Arizona needs to pursue for sustainable economic development,” said Ms. Lanning. “Through supporting entrepreneurs and locally owned enterprises—both large and small—we are maximizing the ecosystem of a healthy economy that builds widespread prosperity and supports more jobs. Local First Arizona is creating healthy local economies across the state that will in turn draw further economic development opportunities.”


Yelp Foundation Awards $1 Million in Grants

The Yelp Foundation announced plans today to give $1 million to charity, including four local nonprofits in the Phoenix area. In 2011, the Board of Directors of Yelp Inc. established the Yelp Foundation with one percent of company equity devoted to supporting community literacy and small business growth. These initiatives are imperative for local economies to thrive, and embodied by the four local nonprofits chosen to receive grants from the Yelp Foundation: Local First Arizona, Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County, Accion and Make Way for Books.

“The Yelp Foundation is thrilled to be able to support literacy and entrepreneurship in local Arizona communities through our grant program,” said Erica Galos Alioto, Yelp Foundation Board Member. “We hope that these grants will further local nonprofits’ efforts and bring awareness to the need for programs that cultivate reading and writing skills and provide opportunities for small business owners to succeed.”

In its first two years, the Foundation matched Yelp employee donations to give a combined total of more than $100,000 to nonprofits each year. The Foundation also created an annual grant program that awarded $400,000 to several charities in 2013. In 2014, the Foundation plans to give a total of $1 million to charity, through grants to nonprofits across the U.S., including up to $200,000 to the four Phoenix-area nonprofits, plus additional awards matching donations made to charities by Yelp employees of up to $1,000 per person.

“On behalf of Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County we would like to thank the Yelp Foundation for their generous donation. Their financial support helps us to continue in our mission to assist adults in learning how to read, communicate in English, and prepare for the GED,” said Arcelia Zamora, Acting Executive Director. “It is because of organizations like the Yelp Foundation that Literacy Volunteers is able to empower those in our community to achieve improved employment, participate in higher education or job training programs, and to create a sustainable quality of life.”

“Local First Arizona Foundation is a proud recipient of a 2014 Yelp Foundation grant, which is an absolutely amazing gift that will help us do extensive outreach and programming around our Be a Localist campaign,” said Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona Director. “Our Be a Localist campaign, which is less than a year old, includes exclusive events at locally owned businesses that are curated to create special experiences for both the business owners and customers. When you’re a Localist, you get to meet the chef, be the DJ, or tour the show behind the scenes. Localists support our mission, which is to celebrate and support entrepreneurship, which helps build prosperity for communities everywhere. The more local a place is, the more people love it! We are proud to partner with the Yelp Foundation to bring more people into a sustainable and Localist lifestyle.”

Fortunately, the impact of the Yelp Foundation’s endowment continues to multiply, thanks to Yelp’s decision to make philanthropy a priority early on by funding the Foundation through a gift of Yelp stock. While it started small, the Foundation currently has more than $30 million in assets, which allows it to make substantial grants each year.

For more information on the Yelp Foundation, go to the Yelp blog or email yf@yelp.com.

Ban Bossy1, WEB

Local business owners weigh in Ban Bossy campaign

The Ban Bossy campaign led by Facebook COO and Lean In founder, Sheryl Sandberg, and the Girl Scouts of USA works to help empower girls and women. The campaign partnered with celebrities and businesses to share quotes, stories and tips for girls, parents, troop leaders and managers to help women become leaders. The basis of the campaign comes from statistics that show that when boys assert themselves they are called leaders, but when girls assert themselves they are labeled as bossy.

The Ban Bossy websites shares leadership tips for girls, parents, teachers, managers and troop leaders that contain statistics and tips for difficult situations. Some examples include allowing boys and girls to work together in groups, pausing after questions so that all students have time to answer, asking questions without right answers so students can answer without the fear being wrong, reading books and watching movies with heroines and heroes, differentiating between competence and being well-liked in the workplace and eliminating language that contains gender bias.

The site also displays favorite stories and resources that “encourage girls to flex their leadership muscles.” These range from PDF activities for girls and parents to complete, to troop activities, to media choices and information, to stories of real girls breaking stereotypes and being leaders.

So how can we expand upon the Ban Bossy campaign? Two Arizona businesswomen speak up about what it means to be a woman in business and how to break the glass ceiling.

Lisa Pino, an ASU alumna and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at USDA, and Kimber Lanning, an Arizona business owner and founder of Local First Arizona, both talk about women needing to take the initiative and use their voice.

Pino explains that she first took the initiative when she worked at a small, private college. She pitched an idea about how to help women enter and stay in college through difficult socio-economic situations such as teenage motherhood, financial struggles and cultural differences. Through this idea, Pino implemented the first minority retention program at the college. “I was fortunate to have a woman boss, and this gave me the initiative to empower myself and do work other than what I was assigned,” Pino states. After this first critical step, Pino states that she later realized that she could be the leader because she learned how to exercise new muscles in creativity and leadership.

Lanning takes a similar position when she states, “Don’t use ‘I’m a girl’ for an excuse for anything – good or bad.” She continues to explain, “I don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on what I can or can’t do,” Lanning states, “I just leap. Fear of failure is not a reason to not try.”

Lanning took the initiative at a young age. She explains that she was passed over for a manager position at a record shop because “no one would listen to a 100-pound woman.” So, Lanning opened her own store, Stinkweeds, instead.

Both women also agree that women need to speak up for themselves in the workplace. Pino explains, “As a woman, it’s necessary to be able to exercise your voice.”

She continues to explain that there is a recent shift in the workplace. Previously, she says, women needed to act like men in the workplace, but now there is an appreciation for the qualities that women tend to have and how those can be regarded as strengths.

“Women tend to have the likelihood of listening, negotiating and handling situations. They work on challenges with a longer view, and are not just forced by the short-term pressure,” Pino explains, “Women tend to be more ambidextrous because they are used to doing it all – work and family. Juggling many things is part of the norm.”

Lanning agrees that women need to show what they can offer in the workplace. She states, “I try to take the time to be conscientious about what I can offer to other people, but if I need to, I have a big toolbox and boxing gloves if needed.” However, Lanning also points out “if women come to work with their boxing gloves every day that is not helpful either.” She suggests that women find ways to collaborate and show their worth.

Pino also speaks directly about Ban Bossy, Lean In and other women’s campaigns. She explains that, even with some of the criticism, all of these campaigns are successful because they start the dialogue. She claims, “It is not as simple as identifying one word – it is a much more complex subject – but, nevertheless, we are talking about it.” She explains that through the extensive coverage from mass media, social media and other women that now people who are not women have to talk about it as well. “Let’s continue the dialogue, let’s see what measurable actions we can take together, let’s create some sort of coalition of support and collaboration,” Pino states.

Finally, Pino states that she is excited and proud of the millennial generation. “It is so exciting for younger women today. It is fantastic that they are growing up in a culture where they won’t tolerate challenges that women had in the past. Also, male millenials are much more progressive in believing in equity for women. I am inspired by younger women and their courage in speaking out about these issues. The culture is changing.”

As women are still underrepresented in board rooms, in business, in the STEM fields and in politics, the discussion needs to continue about equality in the workplace. Ban Bossy attempts to confront the stereotypes and double standards that women face and show girls and women how to lean in. As Beyoncé states, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.

Check out part 2 of this article discussing the Paycheck Fairness Act and President Barack Obama’s Executive Order.


ACAA honors Hildebrand, Schmaltz, Grijalva, Torres

Ginny Hildebrand, who is retiring this year as President and CEO of the Arizona Association of Food Banks, and Tim Schmaltz, Executive Director of the Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition, have been named the 2013 Margie Frost Champions Against Poverty by the Arizona Community Action Association (ACAA).

This is the first time that two recipients will share the award named for Margie Frost, the longtime community activist and creator and former director of the East Valley Men’s Center, a facility for homeless men re-entering society.  Frost, the 1990 Mesa Woman of the Year and recipient of the 1995 Alma Blew Award for Most Outstanding Service to Humanity, died in 2006.

Hildebrand and Schmaltz, consistent and powerful advocates in the effort to reduce or eliminate poverty in Arizona, will receive their awards at the ACAA Statewide Conference (Strengthening Communities through Innovation, Investment, Inclusion) on Friday, May 10 at 11:15 a.m. at the Carefree Resort and Conference Center, 37220 Mule Train Road in Carefree.

The ACAA Leadership Award selection committee also will recognize:

• U.S. Representative Raul M. Grijalva with the 2013 Legislative Leadership Award for “his representation of the people of Arizona in helping to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by poverty,” according to ACAA Executive Director Cynthia Zwick.

• Pastor John Torres (JT) with the 2013 Beating the Odds Award for his “personal accomplishments and in beating the odds to overcome many challenges and obstacles to improve his life and give back to the community,” Zwick said.  Pastor JT overcame drugs, alcohol, gangs and prison to serve local social service and faith-based organizations in the West Valley.

Heart in Hand Awards, annual recognition of the contributions of individuals across the state in the battle to end poverty, will be presented to:

• Jack Davis, by the City of Phoenix Human Services Department

• Alice Tipton, by the Community Action Human Resources Agency (CAHRA), Pinal County

• Amy Schwabenlender, Valley of the Sun United Way, by Maricopa County Human Services Department

• Ana Robles, City of Somerton, Desert Valley Senior Center, by Western Arizona Council of Governments

• Reverend Rula Colvin, by Gila County Community Action Program

• Scott Coverdale, Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona, by Pima County Community Action Agency

• Harvey Grady, by Northern Arizona Council of Governments

• Elizabeth Archuleta, Chair, Coconino County Board of Supervisors, by Coconino County Community Services.

The two-day ACAA Statewide Conference features keynote addresses by Elizabeth Archuleta, Chair, Coconino County Board of Supervisors; Jennifer Brooks, State & Local Policy Director, Corporation for Enterprise Development; and Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona.

Break-out sessions include key principles of Motivational Interviewing (Denise Beagley, Magellan Health Services of Arizona), Asset Building Strategy (Luis and Francisco Cervera, eMoneyPool), Moving Toward Evidence-Based Practice and Intro to the ROMA Next Generation Center of Excellence (Kelly McGowan, ACAA, and Sandra Mendez, National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP), Building Healthy Client/Customer Relationships (Moe Gallegos, City of Phoenix Human Services Department), Mental Health 101 for Caseworkers (Denise Beagley), Create a Social Media Plan You Can Manager (Elise Peterson, Meridian Designs & Creations), Creating Hunger Free Communities (Amy Schwabenlender, Vice President Community Impact, Valley of the Sun United Way), Building an Effective Issue Campaign (Serena Unrein, Arizona PIRG), A Place at the Table Screening and Discussion (Ellen Teller, Food Research & Action Center); Becoming an Excelling Community Action Agency (Russ Spain, Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership, Idaho Falls, ID); Viewing of “The Line” and Discussion (Laura Penny, Director, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona); Affordable Care Act (Matt Jewitt, Children’s Action Alliance); and Save Our Home Arizona (Mickey Breen, Arizona Department of Housing, Save our Home Arizona).

For information or to register, visit www.azcaa.org or call (602) 604-0640.


Wist signs contract with Infusionsoft

Wist Office Products, the longtime Tempe-based office supplier ranked “Best Office Supply Company” in the state for seven years and counting, today announced yet another victory in a year that’s already proven to be a standout for the locally-owned and operated retailer.

Infusionsoft, designer of the only all-in-one sales and marketing software for small businesses and a six-time Inc. 500/5000 company, has signed on with Wist Office Products, Arizona’s largest independent business product supplier, to exclusively provide all of the company’s office supply and business product needs. The announcement was made shortly after Wist Office Products secured a prestigious ILoA Award from AZ Business Magazine, recognizing local businesses for their contributions in five key industries – alternative energy, distribution and logistics, healthcare, hospitality, and retail.

“We’re thrilled to make Infusionsoft an integral part of the Wist Office Products team,” said Ian Wist, co-owner and general manager at Wist Office Products. “We’re longtime admirers of how they operate their business, and their passion and dedication to aiding small business growth. All you need to do is look at their own history and growth to see why an Infusionsoft/Wist partnership is an ideal fit for both sides.”

“The real winners in this deal are the people of Arizona,” explains Kimber Lanning, executive director of Local First Arizona. “Most folks don’t realize that having business to business support between Arizona companies keeps up to four times more money recirculating in the local economy, and that means more tax revenue for parks, libraries and fire departments.”

Headquartered in Chandler, Infusionsoft’s contract with Wist indicates yet another way the company helps further the goals and objectives of small businesses, opting to sign on with their Tempe neighbor as opposed to forging a contract with a larger, national conglomerate.

“We love Arizona and the many businesses headquartered here,” said Eric Keosky-Smith, Infusionsoft regional development director for Arizona. “A partnership with a local company like Wist makes clear sense to us because it keeps more money in Arizona, which ultimately contributes to our company’s purpose – to help small businesses succeed. We hope to lead by example and show others that partnering locally can be an excellent option that isn’t just self-fulfilling but also beneficial to everyone in the local community.”

With a catalog of more than 50,000 office supply products and nearly 60 successful years in the industry, Wist Office Products has managed to successfully avoid the economic collapse that so many local companies have fallen prey to since the Recession began.

“It’s partnerships like this one that have kept business thriving over the years,” Wist said. “We’ve had a stellar almost-sixty years in business, and with the continued support of great companies like Infusionsoft, we look ahead to another sixty more.”

Lanning headshot

Phoenix Looks to Award Contracts to Local Businesses

Local First Arizona believes the leadership at Phoenix City Hall is moving in the right direction with respect to the inclusion of Arizona owned companies bidding for new contracts for the city’s towing.  A new towing contract proposes that Phoenix be divided into four zones, with local companies All City Towing and DV Towing being recommended for three of the four zones. The fourth zone is expected to go to an out of state company, Western Towing. The Phoenix City Council is reviewing staff’s recommendation that supports local businesses and will ultimately vote on the matter. Previously, the towing contract went to United Towing, a company based in Chicago that had a monopoly for many years.

The city’s actions will keep far more dollars, more jobs and more economic impact in the community due in large part to the fact that the locally owned towing companies being considered are rooted in Arizona. They utilize local accountants, payroll service providers, web developers, attorneys and more local businesses. Those dollars stay here and recirculate, retaining jobs and creating additional tax revenue for other city services. A procurement study done by Local First Arizona focusing on Arizona based office supply company Wist showed that locally owned companies keep three times of their total revenue in Arizona than an out of state company.  Another study shows that for every $100 spent with a locally owned business, roughly $45 remains right here in Arizona. When the same $100 is spent in a national business, only $13 remains here.

Phoenix is making a concerted effort to make sure more tax dollars spent on city contracts go to Arizona based companies. Recently Mayor Greg Stanton implemented a policy to encourage more contracts valued at $50,000 or less to local companies. This new policy shift is expected to generate an estimated $18-$20 million in new business in the local community each year.

Local First Founder and President Kimber Lanning said, “We are now seeing large and small City of Phoenix contracts go to local companies and the positive impact will be measurable and significant.  While I hope I am never in the unfortunate situation to have my car towed by the City, it’s encouraging to know that predominately local companies are on the job in three-fourths of the city of Phoenix.”


Metrocenter Looks Local, Partners With Kimber Lanning

A new partnership between Metrocenter and local business advocate Kimber Lanning marks the latest step by mall owner Carlyle Development Group to strengthen the connection between the retail landmark and its Phoenix community.

“We’ve spent more than a year listening, building relationships and creating a plan to meet the needs of our almost half-a-million nearby residents,” said CDG’s COO Warren Fink. “Kimber is part of our next great phase, which is to turn that plan into results.”

Lanning is an Arizona native and the founder of Local First Arizona, a nonprofit coalition of more than 2,100 Arizona-based companies working together to strengthen the local economy through the support of local businesses.

“I was raised in Glendale so I have a soft spot for this mall,” Lanning said of the 1.3 MSF property at Interstate 17, between Peoria and Dunlap roads in Phoenix.

“Thanks to Carlyle, Metrocenter looks great and is ripe to leap back into the spotlight with the right blend of national and local businesses.”

According to Lanning, local businesses provide unique experiences and one-of-a-kind products that set a mall apart from the status quo. They also keep three times more money in the local economy over national chains. This is because local business owners tend to hire other local service providers, such as accountants, graphic designers and web developers, which creates jobs and keeps more money re-circulating in Phoenix.

“Metrocenter has many locally owned, one-of-a-kind stores that respond to the needs of this area’s shopper and are thriving because of it,” said mall General Manager Brent Meszaros. “Kimber will help to increase that percentage of local representation.”

Lanning suggests options such as a furniture store, men’s clothier and hand-crafted gifts, and additional services near the mall entrances such as a musical instrument retail and repair shop.

Longtime Local First Arizona member, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, recently relocated to the mall.

“This is one of the best schools in the country for learning about music — how to play it, how to write it and how to perform it,” Lanning says. “The school and its client list are stellar. They continually bring people through the doors.”

For Metrocenter, Lanning will actively seek out other local businesses to blend into the already diverse mall mix.

Built in 1973, Metrocenter is home to more than 125 retailers and department stores, including Dillard’s, Macy’s, Sears and a 12-screen Harkins Theatres. Other popular tenants include the Phoenix Conservatory of Music and in-line retailers such as Aéropostale, Bath & Body Works, The Children’s Place, Victoria’s Secret, Journey’s, Charlotte Ruse, Sports Chalet and Finish Line.


Certified Local Fall Festival

Local First Arizona Hosts Certified Local Fall Festival

Bring your family and friends to Portland Parkway on Nov. 10 for Local First Arizona’s 8th Annual Certified Local Fall Festival.

Voted “Best Free Festival” in 2011’s New Times Best Of Phoenix awards, the Certified Local Fall Festival is free to attend, and the first 500 attendees will receive gift bags. The event aims to bring attention to and celebrate Phoenix’s many esteemed, locally owned businesses and everything that Downtown Phoenix has to offer. Last year, more than 6,000 people attended this popular local event.

Participating vendors include:

  • Practical Art
  • Community Tire
  • Zia Records
  • Frances Boutique
  • Kidstop Toys
  • Across Arizona Tours
  • Pink House Boutique
  • Desert Song Yoga
  • Noble Beast Pet Boutique
  • Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
  • Samurai Comics, and more.

In addition to having the opportunity to explore Downtown Phoenix, the festival is also the perfect opportunity to get an early start on holiday shopping. Various booths will be set up throughout the festival and there will even be a Kids Craft Booth.

Looking for some live entertainment? Some of Arizona’s best musicians and local favorites will also be in attendance and will perform on the Music Stage, sponsored by Bookmans.

And for the foodies out there, the Certified Local Fall Festival will also give attendees a chance to sample local cuisine and food-truck grub, including:

  • Postino
  • Bruce Brown Catering
  • Urban Cookies
  • America’s Taco Shop
  • green/nami
  • Belinda’s Pickles
  • Short Leash Hot Dogs
  • Carte Blanche Gourmet Tacos
  • Sandra Dee’s Catering, and more.

But that’s not it. Roosevelt Row, a popular downtown area filled with local businesses, is just within walking distance from Portland Parkway. Attendees can visit the Irish Cultural Center and the Japanese Friendship Garden or even get a bite to eat.

Attendees can purchase a $10 ticket for admittance to the Beer and Wine Garden to sample an array of Arizona beers and wines. Tickets for food samples and select activities are just $1 dollar.

For more information about the Certified Local Fall Festival, visit localfirstaz.com/fall-festival.


If You Go: Certified Local Fall Festival

10 W. Portland St. (btw Third & Central avenues),
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Saturday, Nov. 10th
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.