How Local Restaurants Can Determine the Fate of Cities and Neighborhoods

agustin kitchen tableWe love local restaurants for plenty of reasons, but now we have one more to add to the pile.

According to a new study, when researchers asked city residents “what aspects of urban life enchanted them, food kept popping up in their responses. Eighty-two percent of urbanites appreciate their city’s culinary offerings!”

As CityLab reports: “Restaurants are the leading force behind reclaimed waterfronts and regenerating neighborhoods, and are a key component of mixed-use development and urban retail. When a part of the city puts itself on the map, it’s often because of a wave of trendy eateries have opened there.”

We are definitely seeing this trend across the Phoenix Metro and and in Tucson. As restaurants continue to open in the city centers, they contribute to urban infill, bring residents and visitors downtown, and have truly transformed Arizona into a foodie destination. We’re even seeing it in more rural areas such as Flagstaff and Cottonwood, where the restaurant scenes continue to be a driving force of tourism to those areas.

Local restaurants not only offer a boost to the local economy, but also contribute to a city or neighborhood’s “sense of place.” These independent restaurants offer a unique character to an area, and this leads to residents being proud of their neighborhood and happy to live there. In a article from earlier this year in The Arizona Republic titled “West Valley’s independent restaurants, pubs can offer sense of place,” residents of the area have a special attachment to local restaurants and pubs in the area. “This always feels like home,” was a response from one resident talking about a local pub he’s been visiting since the 1990s.

Next time you’re dining out, remember to think local and thank your favorite local restaurant for all that they contribute to your local community!

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Find your new favorite today!

Posted in Restaurants & Dining | Leave a comment

Terroir Seeds launches New School Fundraising Program

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations.” Cindy and Stephen Scott, Terroir Seeds

TerroirSeedsLogoThe Chino Valley based seed company, Terroir Seeds, is a true treasure for Arizona, and the rest of the nation. Cindy and Stephen Scott own and operate their business with a focus on providing the highest quality seed, the best personal service, and making a positive impact in the community. Heirloom seeds and vegetables are being re-discovered as container, raised bed, and backyard gardens are being planted more than ever. Flavor, growing your own food and knowing where your food comes from are some of the biggest reasons for the growth of these gardens, farmer’s markets and CSA’s.

Cindy and Stephen are continuing their community impact with a new program, starting this summer. Schools and organizations are constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to raise money. Terroir Seeds’ new program provides a way for schools and organizations to raise money and educate students, parents and the public. The Grow With Us—A Seed Fundraising Program benefits schools, students and the gardening public. It’s a win win and the program can be implemented anywhere and by any organization looking for a fun, creative, educational, and HEALTHY way to raise money.

Grow-With-Us-FundraisingSimilar to a typical fundraising program, Grow With Us offers organizations to sell a product and receive a profit share at the end of the sales program. Organizations or schools receive 50% of what is sold, and there are a variety of seed packages offered. Each package sells for $10 each and vary from a sunflower garden package (which includes a variety of sunflowers for beautification and seed harvesting, to a pizza garden (which includes herbs and vegetables for pizza), to a fresh salad garden and even a package of seeds that are just fun to grow. You can check out the full details of the program packet here, and see how the seed packages vary and how the program works.

But unlike most typical fundraising programs, selling heirloom seeds does so much more for the community. Selling seeds, and becoming familiar with the seed package offerings, can stimulate students’ interest in gardening, health, nutrition, soil education and plant diversity. The program could turn several of these young students in Arizona, and beyond, into Locavores, because how food is grown, prepared and harvested all starts with a seed. 

Handful-of-seedTerroirThanks for establishing such a unique program, Cindy and Stephen! We look forward to growing with you and hope that some of our organizations will take you up on this fun opportunity to raise funds for their causes! For more information, contact Cindy or Stephen at (888) 878-5247 or visit

Posted in Agriculture, Excellence in Localism, Local Business Tips, Local First Movement, Local Food, Northern Arizona, Press Releases, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

July Evening Mixer Recap: Arizona Sunrays

Arizona Sunrays 1

This month, Arizona Sunrays (a proud Sustaining Member of LFA), hosted our July Mixer at their primary gymnastics facility in North Phoenix. We began the evening with a Membership 101 Session, which is a free crash-course overview of Local First Arizona benefits. Whether you’ve just joined or have been a member for years, these monthly sessions offer great insights about becoming more involved with Local First Arizona and the local movement. We hold these before every Phoenix Evening Mixer & also online. Click here to register for the next one!


The team at Arizona Sunrays did a great job going local for the nosh with delicious bites from 32 Shea and amazing pastries from Karl’s Bakery. Roping off a special area for our members smack dab in the middle of all the action in the gym, guests were treated to an exhibition from competitive and award-winning gymnasts-showing us their skills on the high bars and the exercise floor. We had the pleasure of meeting many members of the Arizona Sunrays staff, many of whom have worked there for several years. In one of the most unique venues we have held a mixer, we had a great time getting to know a variety of both new and seasoned members.


A very special thank you goes out to Terri and the entire staff at Arizona Sunrays who not only were great hosts, but huge supporters of Local First Arizona and the local movement as a whole! To learn more about Arizona Sunrays, visit their website by clicking here.

Missed this one? Join us for the next Phoenix Evening Mixer at Allstate Appliances, click here to RSVP!

Thank you to all members in attendance:

About Blind Cleaning
Arizona Pavers
Arizona State Parks Foundation
Arizona Trade Exchange
AZ Social Media Wiz
Bezt Impressions
Carter Law Firm
Commerce Bank of Arizona
Gravity Web+Design
Green Living Magazine -Sustaining Member
Matek Media
Native Sun Images
OnSite Oil Change
Payroll Control Systems
R&S Insurance
RJD Creative
Sage Payment Solutions
Studio ADT
Support My Club

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement | Leave a comment

2nd Class to Graduate from Fuerza Local Accelerator Program

We are excited to graduate our second class from the Fuerza Local Accelerator Program!

Fuerza Local Accelerator Program

Local First Arizona was the first local business organization in the country to implement a Spanish language initiative, an accelerator program which works to encourage low-income Latinos to think entrepreneurially to create a pathway to prosperity for themselves and their families. We are incredibly proud of our second class of entrepreneurs and are excited to see what they will contribute to our economy and community. We hope that you can join us for the celebration:

Fuerza July2014-English

We hope that you can join us! Click here to read about the first graduating class earlier this year. Learn more about Fuerza Local by clicking here.

Posted in Fuerza Local, Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement | Leave a comment

Feeling Eclectic

This Local First Arizona member spotlight is on Purple Lizard Boutique:

purple lizard boutiqueMake a fashion statement all while staying cool during these summer monsoon months. The Purple Lizard Boutique, located near Encanto Park, is filled to the brim with a unique mix of clothes, hand crafted jewelry, shoes, hats, scarves and more. Owner Marguerite Tram’s personally selected and diverse collection of linen and breathable dresses, comfortable shoes, cute purses, and Mexican-inspired gifts and wares are some of the best in town. This funky boutique is definitely the go-to-place for Mexican art including Santos, woven linens, Mexican oilcloth bags, nichos, candles, and Dia de los Muertos and other rare treasures. With its large collection of handmade and local artists’ work, this is just the place to swing by when you’re on the hunt for the perfect southwestern-inspired gift or looking for an outfit that is summer-in-the desert approved from hard-to-find brands like CP Shades, Flax, and Krista Larson.

Click here to find out more about Purple Lizard Boutique. You can click here to read past member spotlights. You can also search our local business directory to find 2,500 local businesses across Arizona. 

Posted in Greater Phoenix, LFA Member Spotlight | Leave a comment

Grand Living Bed and Breakfast

This is a northern Arizona member spotlight for Grand Living Bed and Breakfast in Williams

grandlivingfrontBill and Gloria Job have traveled throughout the world, and called many places home. Now, they call Williams, Arizona home and they share their experiences and their hospitality with others with their peaceful and welcoming bed and breakfast. Grand Living Bed and Breakfast is a cozy and quiet log home that offers six rooms for guests to stay in and truly relax. The B&B is surrounded by a lush grove of Ponderosa Pines. It’s just a half hour’s drive from Flagstaff, about an hour from both the Grand Canyon and Sedona and three hours from Phoenix, providing the perfect location to jump off to your next Arizona adventure.

JasmineroomThe rooms at Grand Living are well appointed and certain to make you comfortable. Every room is individually decorated with antiques and artwork pieces, and has a private entrance (except for the Suite & Blue rooms). The wood floors, accent rugs, fireplaces, King or Queen-size bed with plush linens, a private bathroom with bathrobes and a claw foot tub, a sitting area with high back chairs, and a work desk. The B&B also offers wireless internet and televisions for those that do want to stay connected while on vacation.

Since there are so many amazing adventures nearby, the Jobs can also arrange a private tour of Northern Arizona, ancient ruins, train ride to the Grand Canyon, golfing, rafting, helicopter rides, tours or horseback riding. The location also provides easy access to the Painted Desert, Monument Valley, the Petrified Forest and other northern Arizona treasures. They are determined to make your stay unique and customized to your needs. The B&B can also accommodate groups that are seeking a charming setting for weddings, baby/wedding showers, family reunions and other communal get togethers.

TripAdv.GrandlivFor this reason, the B&B is highly ranked on Trip Advisor and on other major B&B websites. Grand Living won a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor for 2013 and 2014 and the reviews on the website are telling of the amazing experiences that visitors from all over the world have had there. Congratulations to Bill and Gloria for running such an amazing business and establishing great customer satisfaction year after year!

For reservations or inquiries, call the B&B at 800-210-5908 or email them at Online reservations can be made on their website anytime by visiting You can also follow them on Facebook here!

Posted in Exploring Arizona, LFA Member Spotlight, Local First Movement, Northern Arizona, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

Pinetop-Lakeside hosts Kimber Lanning for series of Rural Seminars

PinetopLakesideThe Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce and the Ad and Promotions Committee for the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside is excited to announce it will be hosting Kimber Lanning for a series of workshops on July 29th and July 30th. The workshops will take place at 6:00pm on July 29th and 8:30am on July 30th at The Gathering Place in Pinetop. Each seminar will be approximately 1.5-2 hours in length and refreshments will be served. These are the first two of four seminars that Ms. Lanning will be presenting in Pinetop-Lakeside.

The topic for July 29th’s seminar will be Tourism Strategies, and will include an assessment of Pinetop-Lakeside. The topic for July 30th’s seminar will be Customer Service. Each seminar is open to the public and costs $10 per person (cash or check only). Call the Chamber of Commerce office to reserve a space at 928-367-4290.

pinetop_8The Chamber invites you to save the date for the final two seminars. On September 4th at 6:00pm, Ms. Lanning will present “How to Leverage your Localness’. On Sept 5th at 8:30am she will present on social media strategies for small businesses. More details about these two events will be forthcoming.

Ms. Lanning will be presenting these seminars based on her previous work in the Pinetop-Lakeside community, and on her background as an entrepreneur, economic development specialist and founder of Local First Arizona. Lanning will focus on building awareness of the importance of developing focus on local businesses as a tool for creating a sustainable, healthy region with a diverse local economy.

Posted in Economics, Northern Arizona, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

Growing Dreams: Lucky Nickel Ranch

828c0634d86008c399a57a6a8c86051e_largeI’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our readers to one of the great social entrepreneurs in Arizona’s agriculture industry today. Marine Corps Veteran, Michael McKenzie is an up and coming game-changer in healthy, local living. McKenzie’s Lucky Nickel Ranch (LNR) began in 1999, with a social mission in mind to create employment opportunities for underserved and underutilized populations, such as veterans and seniors, and to help build the movement for healthy, sustainable, and local food in Arizona.

1209059_567277879988362_1120747278_nOver the years, Lucky Nickel Ranch has built up its offerings and provided essential services to the community, including a Community Supported Agriculture program, Farmers’ Markets, and most recently, a farm incubator program.


Read on to learn more about LNR’s incubator program, and visit this page to support their Kickstarter campaign to fund new incubation services on the farm.

The agricultural sector in America is shrinking at an alarming rate, centralizing the life-sustaining work that is agriculture into the hands of just a few megalithic corporations, known to waste fossil fuels and to cause a huge tax on our environment and public health. Since 1870, employment in the industry’s labor force has nosedived from 70-80% of the US population to less than 2% today[1]. In addition, the number of farms has shrunk, nearly three-fold[2], separating us from our food, and facilitating the ambivalence that has led to a steady increase in diet-related health conditions. We MUST re-establish competition in this industry, if we ever want to see a return to healthy living in America. 

10177868_658394580876691_708122558143747290_nIncubator farms are a groundbreaking concept that has taken hold in various pockets around the country. Very similar to co-working spaces, which have become popular in urban areas, incubator farms provide business management skills and tools, as well as modern agricultural techniques with an eye toward sustainable agriculture at a local level.

70f70363482dda9cc758832c8aaaf9df_largeSmall local farms are smarter than the industrial agriculture machine we support when we purchase “conventional” food products, which often travel thousands of miles to reach us. With our economy the way it is, the work of incubator farms like McKenzie’s Lucky Nickel Ranch is SO important, not only for the greater public and the environment, but also for those who are out-of-work, and those who have an interest in the agricultural sector, but limited experience.

Please, support your local farmers whenever you can. A great way to do that today is to pitch in on Michael McKenzie’s Kickstarter campaign to expand the incubator program—this program is a crucial building block in the re-emergence of the local food and agriculture economy.



Posted in Local First Movement | Leave a comment

Weekend of parties to celebrate Tucson’s new streetcar

14366895337_7cb5bb2435_zAfter years of waiting and watching, the opening of Tucson’s streetcar is finally here! As with all great events in Tucson, the opening of the streetcar will be launched with several celebrations. On Friday, July 25th the very first streetcar run will have ceremonial ribbon cuttings at each stop. The first ribbon cutting will take place at 7 am at Mercado San Augustin, followed by ribbon cuttings at Helen & Warren at 7:40, University and Tyndall at 8:05 and 4th Avenue and 7th Street at 8:28. Then it’s off to Congress & 5th Ave at 9am for the streetcar Grand Opening. Local First Arizona will be downtown to join everyone for the Grand Opening, so stop by to say hi. Be sure to ask for one of the few remaining Localist Fed By Threads tees, we have just a few left so be sure to grab yours!

bellAfter the presentations, the streetcar will officially open to the public at 10:00 am for three days of free rides. And what a great three days it will be! There will be ongoing celebrations in each of the business districts along the route with lots of LFA members joining in on the fun. On Friday July 25th, from 11am-5pm, and Saturday July 26th, from 3-9pm, the FOX Theatre will be showing FREE cartoons on the big screen and The Tucson Museum of Art will be offering half priced admission Friday through Sunday. Ben’s Bells will be passing out special scavenger hunt maps to identify kindness murals around town. Turn in your maps and you may even win one of the exclusive Ben’s Bell’s commemorative Streetcar Bells. The MLK parking lot will be converted to a public “beach” complete with sand, water, live music and food. Check out the great beach parties Friday and Saturday nights.

In the Mercado District, there will be Beer and Brats in the courtyard Friday night along with live music and wandering mariachis. Friday will also feature a special “pop-up party” hosted by Living Streets Alliance. You can check out bike-themed art at YAYBig’s Pop-Up Art Gallery, make a homemade sign to cheer YAY! for the Streetcar, learn more about Living Streets Alliance’s Pedestrian Safety and Comfort Campaign and enter LSA’s bike gear raffle. Saturday features a karaoke party under the Cushing Street bridge and Sunday will feature a special brunch. Fourth Avenue will be celebrating the “Soul of the City” with live music up and down the avenue as well as public slide presentations, light towers and an outdoor movie screen. Main Gate Square will be getting “Jazzed in the City” with musical celebrations. There will be street troubadors, an instrument petting zoo and live jazz concerts. The University of Arizona will also feature a farmer’s market and free Yoga lessons. Check out all the great events planned, as well as merchant specials here.

uniquelyIt’s important to note while the streetcar celebrations will bring lots of fun and games for the three day opening weekend, the public benefits of Tucson’s new streetcars will be felt far longer. The streetcar line supports hundreds of locally owned businesses, identified here on this collaborative map. The streetcar has already led to over $350 million in additional private investment along the route and helped attract new businesses. “I would say that the streetcar had a really large influence on me choosing this spot for The Hopyard. It’s been great so far, even just people now coming out, just checking out what’s been happening, looking at all the new additions with the streetcar.” says Hopyard owner and LFA member, Allison Crist.  Tucson’s Downtown has seen an amazing revitalization.  Linking the University to the Fourth Avenue, Downtown and Mercado business districts will also bring a great new influx of visitors between the areas. Party now for the grand opening events and enjoy the ride into a more connected future for Tucson!

Posted in Economics, Local First Movement, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Leave a comment

Ready to be a hero?

wishlist_hero_kidOne of the things we love best about working with Arizona’s local businesses is their commitment to the communities that they call home, especially with charitable causes. Some studies have found that small businesses donate about twice as much per employee to charitable organizations as large businesses, showing that local businesses have a deeper commitment and understanding of the impact they can make on their local community in regards to helping fellow community members. 

Local First Arizona Wish List Hero continues this trend. is a website that empowers anyone to become a hero and impact their community. Wish List Hero helps nonprofit organizations share their greatest needs for items, projects, and programs year-round.

It has never been easier to help out a local charity. In just five minutes, you can click from your couch and impact your favorite cause. You simply go to the site, pick a charity, review their needs, and choose what to give. Could you give a new doll to a child at Ronald McDonald House or provide peanut butter for puppies at the Humane Society? Sure you can! Congratulations, you are a hero!

You and everyone you know can support in three ways. You can:

1. Provide the tangible items that are in need
2. Donate money online toward granting a wish
3. If you want to really increase your impact…you can start a Hero Campaign with your friends and family to support a larger item!

The site includes a wide variety of fantastic organizations that grows each week. Wish List Hero already has more than 100 wishes waiting to be granted! Are you ready to be a hero? Visit the website and see what you can do for your community.

Posted in LFA Member Spotlight, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Leave a comment