Print Group promotes shopping locally
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Friday, 08 July 2011 00:00

A group dedicated to promoting and supporting locally owned Arizona businesses has a new opportunity for businesses in the Verde Valley.

Local First Arizona grew out of an organization started in 2003 that started to encourage the state to make more purchases from Arizona-based businesses. Today their efforts have expanded to promote everyone buying from locally owned businesses as much as possible.

The group recently received a grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority to assist locally owned businesses with free marketing and technical training.

Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Lana Tolleson pointed to some numbers researched by Local First Arizona.

“For every $100 you spend at a locally owned business, $73 of that stays in the local economy,” Tolleson said. “At other businesses, about $43 remains.”

The chamber’s mission differs somewhat from that of Local First Arizona, Tolleson said, since the chamber does what it can to support and welcome all businesses.

Still, there are many businesses all across the Verde Valley that could benefit from what Local First Arizona is offering.

“It’s something that can help our members,” Tolleson said. “We’re always looking to do that, and all the better that it’s free for locally owned businesses.”

Tolleson said that the group looked around the state for areas that could benefit the most from its free marketing program, and put the Verde Valley on the list.

To help the group get a better picture of what kind of resources are needed, it is asking local businesses to take around three minutes to fill out an online survey at

Valley. The survey asks a handful of questions about the type of business and a few questions about marketing and customers.

The information will be used as part of a two-year plan to focus on promoting local businesses here in the Verde Valley.

Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce Director Tracie Schimikowsky said she knew of only one business in town that had participated so far.

“We’re just trying to spread the word,” Schimikowsky said.

It dovetails nicely with a regional initiative called Rediscover the Verde Valley, Tolleson said.

“We want people to get out there and see what’s here,” Tolleson said. “Go into businesses they may not have been in in a long time.”

The initiative, started in Cottonwood, has reached out and joined forces with the other chambers in the Verde Valley, along with groups in unincorporated communities.

The initiative even has a Facebook presence, which Tolleson said is a key component in the effort.

“If someone finds a unique product, they can share it online,” Tolleson said. “If someone is looking for something in particular, they can post that and maybe there will be someone who knows where they can get it.”

Efforts like these are especially important, Tolleson said, as the state continues to cut back on funding to chambers of commerce, affecting their ability to market and promote businesses.