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Program helps Arizona businesses support other local businesses

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The push for consumers to buy from locally owned businesses isn’t new, but Local First Arizona has a new target: other local businesses.

The Phoenix-based non-profit launched Source AZ to educate business owners about other local companies they can support instead of purchasing from national chains.

Local First Arizona works with business owners to analyze their company’s purchasing history and offers suggestions for local providers instead.

“It’s important to be reminded to help other local businesses as well,” said Rachel Cary, who called herself a marketing guru and stylist at Bunky Boutique in downtown Phoenix.

“We carry some local brands and all of our jewelry for the most part – about 80 to 90 percent of it – is locally made,” she said. “We use Truce cleaning products, which is a local company. And we love our neighbors, Giant Coffee, which is owned by Matt Poole of Matt’s Big Breakfast. Just this building itself is a little hub of local businesses.”

Bunky Boutique is one of more than 2,600 local businesses that Local First Arizona promotes and supports.

The non-profit began Source AZ last year with a pilot program using Clean Air Cab as its test case.

The analysis indicated Clean Air Cab used local companies or products for more than 80 percent of its total expenditures. But there was room for improvement.

Clean Air Cab switched several other areas to local, including waste management.

Source AZ is now working with local dress boutique Cleo & Clementine, and the group’s leaders want to expand to more businesses.

“I know that we are signed up with Local First already, so I think that we automatically would be interested in that program,” Cary said.

Why go local?

“Any time you support a local business, studies have shown that up to four times more of that money stays in the local economy,” said Helene Tack, program development director for Local First Arizona.

“You’re providing funds for local education, you’re providing funds for your parks and resources – the municipalities, the firefighters, police departments,” she added. “It’s important that that money stays in our state so that we don’t have to raise taxes and can have a healthy economy.”

Local business owners often face unique challenges. Businesses like Bunky Boutique have less funding and a smaller online presence compared to larger companies, which makes it more difficult to get their name out there.

Small-business owners may not have time to analyze their local spending.

“As a small-business owner, people are wearing a lot of different hats and doing a lot of different things,” Tack said. “We can come in and do that research if a business wants to switch to a local bank, but doesn’t know which bank is local. We have those resources.”