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Local First is the premier organization advocating for local business ownership in the Midwest. The nonprofit is divided into two complementary entities: a Local First membership organization representing nearly 600 locally owned businesses; and the Local First Educational Foundation, educating the community on the importance of supporting local businesses. In 2010, Local First was named the Midwest regional hub network for BALLE - the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. In this capacity, Local First serves as an advisor to interested communities as they develop their own 'Local First' organizations.
Local First is guided by three core values - Sustainability, Collaboration, and Support - and has played an integral role in the resurgence of Grand Rapids' urban neighborhoods and the growth of West Michigan's entrepreneurial culture. In addition to the benefits extended to businesses within the Local First membership network, Local First organizes and sponsors a variety of public events aimed at promoting local business and educating the community. Such events include the signature Local First Street Party, Eat Local Challenge, and the Local First Sustainability Conference.
Local First was founded in 2003 by a group of local business owners led by Guy Bazzani. Today, Local First has grown into a nationally recognized organization representing nearly 600 locally owned businesses in West Michigan. Learn more about the history of Local First here.
As one of only four BALLE regional hub networks nationwide, Local First's role in promoting local business ownership in West Michigan and beyond is ever expanding. Moving forward, Local First aims to actively support its member businesses while also encouraging locally conscious consumer behavior through increased educational outreach.