Local First Arizona (LFA) is a non-profit organization working to strengthen communities and local economies through supporting, maintaining, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout the state of Arizona.
We educate citizens, stakeholders, business leaders, and legislators about the significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of strong local economies. We build vibrant communities that make residents proud to call home.
View our visual aid to Local First Arizona's key statistics, community impact and achievements made in this incredible year of growth.
Local First Arizona was founded in 2003 named Arizona Chain Reaction. In 2007, the organization expanded, applied for 501©3 non profit status, and changed the name to Local First Arizona. The name was changed in order to better define the positive messages of buying locally and community building, which better fit the mission of the organization.
Kimber Lanning is the founder and has been the Director of the organization since its inception. The management team includes: Russ Baurichter, Membership Coordinator, Deanna Chevas, Tucson Membership Coordinator; Lisette DeMars, Tucson Membership Coordinator; Brian Flatgard, Web Designer and Database Strategist; and Helene Tack, Development Director. The Board of Directors consists of dedicated business owners and community activists, who all work closely with the Executive Director.
Arizona is part of a growing trend as organizations like Local First Arizona are starting up across the country. Studies have shown that for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, roughly $42 remains right here in Arizona, while for the same $100 spent in a national chain store, only $13 remains here. Consumers have grown leery of the false sense of savings promised by national chain stores, and are becoming acutely aware of the homogenization of our communities. As a result, an explosion of sorts is occurring here and everywhere, as people look to define a sense of place, community, and quality of life for their families and their futures.
Current environmental challenges facing the world are also driving local economies. Consumers can no longer afford to pay for tomatoes trekked 1,500 miles (at $4.15 per gallon) to the local grocery store. They are seeking out Local Farmer’s Markets to buy tomatoes grown right here at home. Spending on local foods has quadrupled in the past 2 years. Average Americans are beginning to understand the consequences of over-consumption and are seeking out and discovering the benefits of “going local.”
The Phoenix region is hoping to position itself as a world class entity that attracts and retains the most innovative jobs and workers in the country. City leaders are recognizing that the next generation wants more walkability and stronger neighborhoods with sustainable lifestyles. LFA is working to encourage density, infill, and the adaptive reuse of existing buildings as a way to ensure sustainability in the current economic climate as well as in the future. The sprawl of the past does not serve environmentally sensitive, educated, knowledge-economy workers who are choosing the cities they want to live in based on cultural interests, public transportation, and density. In order to remain nationally competitive, the Greater Phoenix region must re-examine its planning and building philosophies in ways that encourage, rather than discourage, walkable neighborhoods with unique, one-of-a kind businesses that make places feel like home.
LFA is currently the largest organization of its kind in the country with over 1300 members, and is a proud member of the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE). As a non-profit network of local, independently owned Arizona businesses and supporters, we facilitate sustainable economic development by providing: