How to Host the Downtown Lecture Series on FOOD

FOOD-LOGO-plate-text-2lines-01University of Arizona invites local businesses to host stimulating live-streamed dialogues on food in Arizona.


In 2013, the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences launched its First Annual Downtown Lecture Series, on the topic of happiness2013 was such a success the lectures filled the Fox Tucson Theatre in downtown Tucson (capacity 1,200), and hospitality businessesin downtown Tucson began to broadcast the lectures live to the overflow crowds who couldn’t get into the theatre.

This year, UA will dive into the topic of FOOD in the southwest!

29zyO26lbZQLocal First Arizona is proud to partner with The UofA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences to expand the series’ reach, through online broadcasts at satellite sites statewide.  Businesses everywhere are invited to broadcast these top quality lectures–free of any charge–all they need is an internet connection and a screen.  It’s a great opportunity for locally owned businesses committed to supporting local foods connect their values and their quality products with their customers.

To register your business to host a satellite broadcast, please use this form and our Local Foods Coordinator will email notices with the live stream and recordings links.

Local First Arizona will actively promote satellite sites via its social media and newsletters, and The UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will also list each registered satellite site on its own website so that patrons in the area can find you. While businesses do not have to do anything special to host the series, we do recommend facilitating a discussion after, or pairing the event with food & beverage specials—This is a great opportunity to build a sense of community in your business, so make sure to engage your regulars!


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A&E Recycled Granite Goes from Landfill to Luxury

blogcabinLocal First Arizona member A&E Recycled Granite has sustainability built right in to their business model. Comments Julie Olauson, Marketing & Sales Director for the family owned and operated business, “Our process starts with granite slab remnants, destined to be dumped in our local landfills. We divert that waste and recycle it into usable, easy-to-use building materials. Our process does not crush and reform the granite using chemicals or resins, but splits the stone to expose the natural beauty within.” A&E takes those materials destined for landfills and recycles them into high quality split stone tiles, pavers and fire pits. What could have been waste ends up as beautiful accents for patios, kitchen walls, fountains and everything in-between. A&E materials upgrade the look of any home or business and have been featured in television shows like Fix It & Finish It and Blog Cabin.

Originally based in Pennsylvania, the family moved the business to Tucson over 20 years ago where they found a community that was a natural fit for their business. “The Tucson people have an amazingly green mindset!” says Olauson. “It seems that everyone here participates in an eco-friendly activity. Whether it’s riding bikes, supporting local farmers markets, harnessing solar power or finding new ways to recycle, this town is dynamic in its love of nature.” In addition to being a great place to do business, the Olauson family found that Tucson was the kind of place they loved to be. “We love being outdoors, whether it’s hiking, off-roading, or camping. As conservationists we believe in taking care of our environment so we can continue to enjoy it. Starting a company that helps preserve Arizona’s natural landscape was the perfect fit for our family.

A&E was a natural fit for the Local First AZ community as well. It just makes sense, points out Olauson. “Local, small businesses are the backbone of America. You get the best food, the most creative clothing, and the greatest products when you shop local. When a local company works in and with its community everyone benefits. Only with local businesses can you experience the passion they have for their town and their products!”

hfot_2014_new_logo2A&E is an extraordinary company. In addition to making products that are good for the earth and running a company that is good for the local economy, they believe in giving back to the community and supporting causes they feel strongly about. On Tuesday, September 9th , A & E will be hosting a fundraiser for Homes for our Troops, a non-profit organization committed to building specially adapted homes for the over 1700 Service Members nationwide who have returned home with life-altering injuries. The fundraiser takes place at their location from 5 -7 pm. To rsvp, or for more information, call Julie at 885-8970 or visit them on Facebook.

Why buy local? It’s an easy question for Olauson. “There’s always a local alternative to any product you need. Purchasing local products gives you the highest quality and introduces you to some amazing people.”

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Grand Canyon Brewing Announces New Additions to Company

This is a Northern Arizona Spotlight: Grand Canyon Brewing Company

GCB logoSet along historic Route 66 in downtown Williams, AZ, near the southern rim is the acclaimed Grand Canyon Brewing Company (GCB), a family owned and operated microbrewery. Since opening its doors in 2007, GCB has experienced success after success, most recently announcing two exciting additions to the company – brewery expansion and a new brewery hire!

Development of a new 27,000 sq. ft. production facility in Williams, AZ will help to keep up with rising distribution demand in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. The new facility will serve as main production location and the existing brewery will be supplied with a new nano-brewing system testing new flavors and brewing methods. Plans also include the addition of a tasting room, bar, pool tables, and more for beer-loving patrons to enjoy.

Grand Canyon Brewing also announces the newest hire to their team, Josh Ward of Hanger 24, promoting Jeff Fowler to head brewer. Ward joins the team from Redlands, CA based brewing company, Hanger 24, where he rose through the ranks beginning as cellar man, assistant brewer, senior brewer before reaching the status of brewery manager.

“Josh has some great ideas and brings invaluable experience to the Grand Canyon Brewing team. I’m thrilled that he is joining us this month and look forward to working with him. I’m also very excited to see Jeff taking on the lead brewer role. His insight, experience and expertise will be of great value as we continue to grow,” said John Peasley, owner of the Grand Canyon Brewing Company.

White-Water-Wheat-Information-SheetsmGrand Canyon Brewing takes their beer seriously when it comes to quality, and they have the awards to prove it. Their American Pilsner, White Water Wheat and Sunset Amber Ale hold an astounding multitude of medals ranging from bronze, silver and gold in several different competitions.

Looking for seasonal selections? GCB’s staple favorite, Pumpkin Springs Porter, is back by popular demand, ready to welcome you to cooler weather, changing leaves and pumpkin spice aromatic sensations filling the air and your taste buds. Available while supplies last!

While in the area, be sure to head to Cruisers Route 66 Café, next door to GCB, where handcrafted award-winning beer fills pint glasses on a daily basis.

Check out what’s on tap at Grand Canyon Brewing Company:
Descriptions provided by Grand Canyon Brewing Company’s online site.

ABV = Alcohol by volume, O.G. = Original gravity, IBU = International Bitterness Units

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.09.40 AMPumpkin Springs Porter: Ale brewed with pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and spices. This porter is dark and smooth with a warming finish and will be sure to compliment the fall season.

ABV. 5.5  O.G. 16  IBU. 25.5



Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.08.04 AMBlack Iron I.P.A.: This is our tribute to the black iron that paved the way to get the Grand Canyon. Black Iron I.P.A. is a high hopped, fragrant ale that is as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon itself!

ABV. 6.3  O.G. 16  IBU.60



Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.09.59 AMThis summer seasonal is a Viennese style lager that is high in dark vienna malts and sapphire hops. A smooth refreshing medium bodied lager to get you through your summer day.

ABV. 5  O.G. 18  IBU. 13



Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.07.30 AMPerfect blend of German, United Kingdom, and Canadian medium roast crystal malts along with rich Munich and pale malts give our amber complex color and sweetness. Cascade hops help to tame the sweetness. Medals: Bronze 2010 U.S. Open, Bronze 2011 Ameri-Can, Gold 2013 Ameri-Can. 

ABV. 5  O.G. 13  IBU. 21


For a full list of Grand Canyon Brewing Company’s beer selection, click here.

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Keeping It Simple

This Local First Arizona member spotlight is on Heckler Design:

Heckler DesignFor a lot of us in the small business world, keeping up with technology can end up being more of a hassle and even an eyesore. But thanks to the vision of local business Heckler Design, transforming your business or office space comes with ease and style. Heckler Design brings organization, beauty, and ergonomics to your workspace with their American-made products intended to help declutter desk spaces and POS presentations.

Heckler Design dreams, designs, and creates steel products that allow your business to take full advantage of the latest technology tools and their functionality. Heckler Design offers cash drawers, adjustable and sleek modern design frames for iPads and Surface Airs, as well as modern office desks that result in less clutter and wasted space. The end result of their Windfall and OneLessOffice product offerings are individual pieces of art that will add function and style to your home office or business.  Get inspired, keep it simple, visit the Heckler Design website for ideas on how you can transform your home or office space.

Click here to find out more about the Heckler Design. 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. 

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Arizona Fall Arts Roundup

Art Intersection GilbertIf you’re looking for a cultural experience in Arizona this fall, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from thanks to the many arts organizations right here in our home state! No need to travel to see world-class theater performances, visual arts, musical numbers, and arts festivals.

Here we list our roundup of arts happenings this fall. Grab your calendar and start planning:

Select your region:
Tucson & Southern AZ | Northern & Greater AZ | Phoenix Metro Area

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5th Edition of Phoenix Small Wonders Map Now Available

Phoenix Small Wonders map 5Local First Arizona has now released the fifth edition of the Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in the central Phoenix area. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated. 

“We created the Small Wonders maps series to help Arizona residents and visitors find the unique local businesses in their neighborhoods,” said Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First Arizona. “Our central Phoenix map has been one of our most popular maps. We have found that visitors especially love to use the map to find the best local restaurants and shops to experience Phoenix like a true local.

Practical Art“Participating in the Small Wonders map has always been a no-brainer for us,” says Lisa Olson of Practical Art, one of the participating businesses in the fifth edition of the Phoenix Small Wonders map. “Not only have the Small Wonders maps helped bring in new customers to Practical Art, they have also been a great tool for us to share information about other small businesses with our customers. When someone asks about other places they should check out around the area we can just hand them a map and circle our recommendations!”

Some of the businesses featured in the fifth edition of the Phoenix Small Wonders map include recently opened businesses such as The Clever Koi, Joyride Taco House, and The Welcome Diner, but also includes old favorites like the Duck and Decanter, frances, All About Books and Comics, and many others. The map boundaries cover the area south of Bethany Home Road, north of Washington Street, east of 15th Avenue, and west of 12th Street. 

Local First Arizona has also produced other Small Wonders maps for the Phoenix Arcadia Area, Tucson, the Verde Valley, Gilbert, Glendale, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa. The Phoenix Small Wonders map can be viewed digitally at the Local First Arizona website: Physical maps can be picked up at a variety of local businesses, hotels, apartments, and events in the Phoenix area. Business owners, realtors, property managers, hotels, event organizers, and individuals can request maps for distribution free of charge by contacting Local First Arizona at

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August Evening Mixer Recap: Allstate Appliances

image (7)This month, Allstate Appliances hosted our August Mixer at their beautiful design center in North Scottsdale. 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! We hope to see you then.

image (8)Not just your average show room, Allstate Appliances specializes in large home appliances and has been locally owned and operated since 1970. We loved exploring their beautifully coordinated kitchen vignettes fit for any home cook or chef’s culinary fantasy. We even enjoyed cold beverages from their fridges and appetizers prepped on their very own stove tops. A very special thank you goes out to Melissa and the entire team at Allstate Appliances who are not only generous supporters of Local First Arizona and the local movement but many other communities as well! To learn more about Allstate Appliances, visit their website by clicking here.

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

Thank you to all members in attendance:

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5 Ways to Go Local for Labor Day

Labor Day is a celebration of the American worker, which many take as an opportunity to relax, recharge, or get out of town. Celebrate the spirit of the holiday by making the pledge to keep your dollars in the local economy to support local businesses and local wages!

When you choose a local business over a national chain, up to 4 times more money stays in the local economy to support strong, vibrant communities across the state. Here are 5 ways to go local for your Labor Day celebrations:

1. Make it a Staycation

Hacienda Del Sol
Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort in Tucson, Photo via Hacienda del Sol

Planning to get out of town during the long weekend? Arizona is home to many wondrous towns, monuments, and experiences stretching to every corner of this state. Check out our WeekendZona page for some unique day and weekend trip ideas to Bisbee, Tucson, Globe/Miami, Prescott, and the Verde Valley. You can also visit our online directory for a list of local B&Bs, hotels, and travel destinations.

2. Support Local Outside of Arizona

Photo Credit: caribb via Compfight cc

If your Labor Day plans do take you outside of Arizona’s borders, do some research and support the independent businesses where you’re visiting. Seek out locally owned hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more. There may even be a Local First network to help you out!

3. Go Local at the Grill

burger grill
Photo Credit: vauvau via Compfight cc

Hosting a celebratory BBQ for Labor Day? Head to your local farmers market or grocery store to pick up your burger ingredients!

4. Drink Local

SanTan Mr Pineapple

SanTan Brewing Company’s Mr. Pineapple, Photo via SanTan Brewing Company

Picking up a beverage for the Labor Day picnic? Choose a local brew, many local breweries have great summer seasonals right now! If you’re not a beer drinker, there’s always Arizona wine!

5. Skip the Corporate Sale

©2014 Rick D'Elia/D'Elia Photographic/

Copper Art Museum in Clarkdale. Photo by D’Elia Photographic. 

Labor Day weekend is a popular time for big box sales. Most of the money you spend at these stores will end up leaving Arizona. Make your money work for you by skipping the sales and visiting a local business instead!

Posted in Exploring Arizona, Greater Phoenix, Holidays and Events, Northern Arizona, Rural Arizona, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heckler Design Favors Adapative Reuse for Business Expansion


The O.S. Stapley Building in its original glory of the 1920s.

Heckler Design, a made-in-the-USA product design company, has moved its headquarters to the historic O.S. Stapley building on Grand and 7th Ave. The move comes on the heels of the rapid growth the company has experienced since its launch in 2007.

The 6,000-square-foot space, originally built in 1917, was completely restored to showcase the historic elements of the building, but to also bring it up to modern standards, making it a workable space. The new headquarters now houses Heckler Design’s ever-growing customer service team, its warehouse and shipping operations, and the design team.

“Moving into the O.S. Stapley building is significant to us for many reasons. We wanted a space that paid homage to Phoenix, as one of our core values is to keep all production in our home state,” said Dean Heckler, founder of Heckler Design. “Having our own headquarters also marks our growth, and has allowed us to combine our design, customer service, and warehouse under one roof.”


Heckler Design has beautifully restored the building for its new office.

The O.S. Stapley opened in the early 1900s as a hardware store and today, 97 years later, houses a modern hardware company – Heckler Design. The renovation of the building also signifies part of a larger grassroots effort currently underway by the Grand Avenue Merchants Association to gentrify historic Grand Ave., bringing vibrancy back to the once lively street.

It has been shown that historic preservation and adaptive reuse are important tools for building strong local economies and vibrant communities. These local businesses offer a unique environment that communities embrace and cannot be replicated, which adds value to those neighborhoods and towns. Heckler Design had a number of options for their new location, yet they chose to make a local impact and contribute to the increasingly thriving Grand Avenue community. Congratulations Heckler Design on your expansion!

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AZ Rural Policy Forum Fosters Collaboration Among Rural Communities

CAM00047This year’s Rural Policy Forum, held August 7-8 in Globe-Miami, brought together rural community leaders and representatives in an important discussion on how to empower rural Arizona. The Forum welcomed nearly 220 attendees and almost 50 speakers, representing every county in Arizona.

Getting to Know Globe-Miami

dream manor inn

The Bullion Plaza Cultural Center is a great example of adaptive reuse.

Globe-Miami was a gracious host for this year’s event, holding the main festivities and breakout sessions in the beautiful Bullion Plaza Cultural Center. The Forum provided a unique opportunity for attendees to get to know the town and community through a few elective events. The night before the conference, about 80 of the attendees joined up for the Bawdy Broad Street Tour Historic Downtown Globe. The group got a taste of what it was like in the early 1900s when the town was home to over 50 saloons and gambling houses and 150 “working women!” After day one of the forum, attendees could also spend the evening enjoying a 3-course dinner at the Dream Manor Inn, overlooking the historic mining community.

“Globe-Miami was an excellent host city! Loved the facilities, the Historic Downtown Globe Walk, the Dream Manor Inn, and Bullion Plaza,” said one attendee about her experience in Globe-Miami. “I will definitely be returning to Globe-Miami!” said another. 94% of feedback survey respondents reported that they enjoyed their time in globe and that their experience was above average.

Tackling the Issues

Gym 1

Attendees enjoy a presentation at the Rural Policy Forum.

There were breakout sessions and discussions on practically every major issue facing Arizona’s rural communities. Tourism was a popular topic, with sessions discussing Arizona’s emerging agri-tourism industry, how to exceed customer expectations to drive tourism and new dollars, and trade and tourism with Mexico. Some sessions focused on funding opportunities, including crowd funding and grant writing, while others focused on education from K-12 to community colleges to STEM programming.

I was very impressed with the caliber of speakers and relevancy of the topics,” said one attendee. “They were all well-spoken and professional, and offered great examples for idea generating in our own communities.”

With over 40 different speakers and a variety of breakout sessions, there was a workshop for everyone. 100% of feedback survey respondents said that they found the content of the sessions relevant to their professional needs, and 93% of respondents said that they learned new information that will help them and their organization in the future.

Learning From Each Other


Local First Arizona and AZ Rural Development Council Director Kimber Lanning speaks to attendees of the Rural Policy Forum.

Throughout the event, collaboration was a major theme. Many rural communities face the same issues, whether its attracting Arizona tourists, job creation, or retention of young people. The Arizona Rural Policy Forum allows individuals facing similar issues to come together to collectively work on solutions to empower Arizona’s rural communities. 

“It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel when we can come together and learn from one another,” said Local First Arizona Foundation and Arizona Rural Development Council Director Kimber Lanning. “I was impressed with the level of dialogue and the ideas that came out of many of the sessions at this year’s Forum. I think we’ll be seeing some incredible actions happening in Arizona’s rural communities across the state.

96% of feedback survey respondents said that they enjoyed the overall theme of collaboration at the forum, and 95% of respondents said that networking at the Rural Policy Forum was helpful and that they met individuals that will be valuable to them in the future.

Whether you attended the event or not, presentations from the 8th Annual Rural Policy Forum are available for download by clicking here. Be sure to follow the Arizona Rural Development Council on Facebook for the latest updates on rural Arizona issues! We look forward to seeing you all at next year’s Rural Policy Forum!

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