Among the 1,900 booths at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, one seemed slightly out of place. While most booths were promoting green products and sustainable services, Local First Arizona (LFA) was there promoting local businesses. This had me intrigued, so I asked LFA Director Kimber Lanning to explain why she thought it was important to represent local businesses at Greenbuild.
During our discussion, Kimber reminded me that sustainability has three central facets: environmental, social and economic. So, in addition to promoting local business and restaurants to conference attendees, LFA was there to remind people about the social and economic aspects of being green. Locally owned businesses create more local jobs, pay more taxes and reinvest more money in their immediate communities. This is especially important to realize in today’s economy, when state and local governments are purchasing from out-of-state businesses instead of local ones to save a few dollars. While governments may save a few thousand dollars in purchasing costs, these savings are often outweighed by the loss of local jobs, tax income and community reinvestment. As a result, purchasing slightly cheaper products and services from out-of-state corporations often leaves the state balance sheet worse off.
Not only was Greenbuild an opportunity to promote the virtues of shopping locally, but it was also an opportunity for LFA to connect with many green-business owners in Arizona. While LFA is mainly known for restaurants and retail businesses, it is open to all Arizonan-owned business. During the conference, Kimber and Russ Baurichter, LFA’s membership coordinator, met with dozens of Arizona-based trades, contractors, architects and other green-business owners from Arizona that they may not have otherwise connected with. This not only strengthened and broadened the membership base of LFA, but it also gave Arizona’s green industry access to an important resource that will help strengthen the sector. It also served as a reminder that buying local means not only groceries and gifts, but also green products and services.
Local First Arizona is a nonprofit organization representing a coalition of over 1,700 locally owned businesses that work to create sustainability through the encouragement of local economies. The LFA offices can be reached by phone at 602.956-0909 or by email. For a list of Arizona-based green and eco-friendly businesses, click here.