Local First Arizona
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Local First Movement Gains Pivotal Seat at the Traditional Economic Development Table
International Economic Development Council Names LFAZ Director Kimber Lanning Citizen Leader of the Year
Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning has been named the recipient of the 2014 Citizen Leadership Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The annual award recognizes a community leader who has endeavored to further the profession of economic development and has played a key role in economic development in his or her community.
“This award is a milestone in a changing economy, one that is now recognizing the work of Local First Arizona and other Local First initiatives as a viable part of economic development.” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Kimber can proudly accept this award on behalf of everyone working to create sustainable, resilient, diverse, and vibrant local economies in their own communities.”
Lanning’s background is entrepreneurial, having owned three arts-related businesses over the past 27 years. Her work in the arts and culture community provided the platform for Lanning to launch Local First Arizona (LFA) in 2003. “I founded Local First Arizona for two reasons,” said Lanning. “First, I saw too many bright young people leaving Arizona for other cities like Austin and Portland. I wanted to inspire others to stay in Phoenix to help build a world class city. Second, I thought the massive subsidies being given to national chain stores were a raw deal for local communities, and I wanted to see Phoenix return to a climate where businesses, particularly retail and restaurants, had to pay their own way.”
Making an impact on the local economy
Lanning’s leadership has transformed Arizona’s local economy in a drastic way. LFA is now the largest locally owned business coalition in North America with over 2,500 business members, large and small. The online business directory she and her team created gets searched uniquely 48,000 times per month on average and they have amassed nearly 70,000 social media followers. She has 13 full-time staff members in offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Cottonwood working tirelessly to help citizens, business leaders and policy makers to understand the connections between local ownership and widespread prosperity. It is clear that the message is being heard, as the local business community reported sales were up 8.1% in 2013, which is significantly higher than the national average retail sales (local and national chains combined) of 4.2%.
“The movement to diversify our economy isn’t about baristas, shop keepers, or servers,” Lanning explains, “but about the ecosystem of businesses that support independent ownership. Accountants, graphic designers, web developers, attorneys–they all prosper when diverse, independently owned Arizona businesses are thriving. That ecosystem is lost when local business ownership is scarce.”
Using “sense of place” as a tool for economic development
Lanning is quick to site a Knight Foundation study which recently showed “connection to place” as the single-most leading indicator in places that have prosperity. “We need to be sure that people living here feel connected to this place, and locally owned businesses play an important role in that connection. Communities with a strong sense of place are highly successful in attracting the very kinds of high tech workers that our high level economic development teams seek to bring here to Arizona.
“Through Local First Arizona, Kimber continues to create a sense of pride within our communities and showcase the vibrant cities in our region, which helps our organization in attracting businesses to the region,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “It comes as no surprise to see an outstanding community leader from Arizona selected as the IEDC Citizen Leader of the Year.”
Policy and programatic successes
As Director of Local First Arizona, Lanning has overseen many policy changes that have fostered local economic development. She has worked on streamlining the adaptive reuse program at the City of Phoenix, which has enabled more businesses to open up in older building stock that only just recently blighted the city. This policy work has been pivotal in jumpstarting downtown Phoenix’s revitalization and recently landed Lanning the Distinguished Citizen Planner Award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association last year.
Additionally, Lanning and her team have worked diligently on government procurement policies that would enable more Arizona companies to compete, keeping more dollars and jobs flowing through the local economy. Local First Arizona has also seen many programmatic successes that have directly contributed to economic development. LFA was the first local business organization in the country to implement a Spanish language initiative, called Fuerza Local, a business accelerator program which works to encourage low-income Latinos to think entrepreneurially to create a pathway to prosperity for themselves and their families.
Furthermore, LFA’s efforts extended far beyond Arizona’s urban areas when LFA acquired the Arizona Rural Development Council (AZRDC) in May of 2013. Today, Lanning regularly travels across the state to work with rural stakeholders to help find creative solutions for building resilient and diverse economies for the state that include increasing in-state tourism. She also leads the annual Rural Policy Forum, a gathering of rural economic development professionals, nonprofits, community leaders, business owners, and stakeholders who are interested in sustaining rural communities.
Taking a broad approach towards economic development
“The successes of Local First Arizona over the last decade have underscored the broad range of strategies that Arizona needs to pursue for sustainable economic development,” said Lanning. “Through supporting entrepreneurs and locally owned enterprises—both large and small—we are maximizing the ecosystem of a healthy economy that builds widespread prosperity and supports more jobs. Local First Arizona is creating healthy local economies across the state that will in turn draw further economic development opportunities.”
Lanning emphasizes that a healthy Arizona economy needs to be diverse, resilient, and thriving. “To get there,” she says, “We need to invest in our own talent and develop policies that enable our business community to thrive.”
Lanning will accept the Citizen Leadership Award at the IEDC Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday, October 21. Lanning is the second from Arizona to be recognized with the IEDC Citizen Leadership Award. Last year’s award recipient was Sharon Harper of Phoenix, a founding board member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and co-founder of the real estate firm Plaza Companies.
Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Devour Phoenix Launches eGift Card, Redeemable at Over 25 of the Valley’s Best Independent Restaurants
Devour Phoenix, a city-wide coalition of independent restaurants operating under the Local First Arizona (LFA) umbrella, has launched an eGift card that is redeemable at over 25 of its member restaurants. The Devour eGift card can be purchased online and can be printed, emailed as a gift, or redeemed from a mobile phone. The Devour eGift cards are available for purchase at $10, $25, $50, or $100 values.
“This is the first gift card of its kind in the Phoenix area,” said Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First Arizona. “There has never been an option to purchase a gift card that was redeemable at multiple independent restaurants. We are proud that these restaurants are collaborating together in this effort to highlight Phoenix’s amazing local dining scene.”
Participating restaurants accepting the Devour eGift card include Beckett’s Table, Bliss/ReBAR, Cibo, Federal Pizza, FEZ, Gallo Blanco, The Gladly, green Vegetarian and Nami, Hula’s Modern Tiki, Joyride Taco House, Maizie’s Cafe & Bistro, Otro Cafe, The Parlor Pizzeria, Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Pizza People Pub, Postino, Shine Coffee, Short Leash Hot Dogs, Southern Rail, St. Francis, Switch, Tuck Shop, Urban Beans and Tertio Wine Bar, The Vig, Vovomeena, and Windsor/Churn.
“We are really excited to be part of this powerful group of restaurants that showcase the vibrant restaurant scene that Phoenix has to offer,” said Lauren Bailey, LFA board member and co-owner of Upward Projects, the restaurant group that manages Postino, Joyride Taco House, Federal Pizza, and Windsor/Churn. “The Devour eGift card allows the diner to experience a carefully curated list of Phoenix gems or give this amazing gift to someone else.”
The Valley’s independent restaurant scene has expanded over the past ten years, and has drastically improved in quality and diversity as well. This year, six Arizonans were named James Beard Award semi-finalists, one of the most prestigious recognitions in the dining industry. Semi-finalists included Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe, as well as Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s Restaurant, Charleen Badman of FnB Restaurant, Sam Fox of Fox Restaurant Concepts, Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft, and Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco. In addition to excellent food, Phoenix restaurants ensure their meals are paired with the right beverage. For example, Beckett’s Table has been recognized three years in a row with Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for having an outstanding wine menu. Valley restaurants have also consistently made it on to national lists of best restaurants, including Yelp’s 2014 Top 100 Places to Eat in the US (Postino, Short Leash Hot Dogs), Esquire’s Best New Restaurants (Virtu Honest Craft, 2013; Barrio Queen, 2012), and many others.
“Devour Phoenix is a selection of some of the best restaurants that Phoenix has to offer. We believe the Devour eGift card will be a great opportunity to introduce Arizonans and visitors to Phoenix’s innovative and award-winning dining scene, said Lanning. “The Devour eGift card will also be a great alternative to big box gift cards for birthdays, special occasions, and holidays. By purchasing a Devour eGift card, the purchaser is choosing to keep his or her money in the local economy by supporting Phoenix’s independent restaurants. And that is a foodie’s best gift.”
Gift cards can be purchased at https://devourphoenix.instagift.com/.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Local First AZ to Celebrate Independents Week June 29 – July 6 with Events, Discounts, Contests, and More
In recognition of National Independents Week, Local First Arizona (LFA) will honor locally owned and independent businesses across the state from Sunday, June 29, through Sunday, July 6. The nationwide Independents Week campaign, coordinated by the American Independent Business Alliance and also known as “Indie Week,” takes place during the week of Independence Day with the purpose of enlightening consumers to the importance of supporting local businesses.
This year, Local First Arizona is hosting a series of events in the Phoenix Area to celebrate Independents Week. The first event was Phoenix Independents Bowl on Sunday, June 22, at Let It Roll Bowl and Entertainment at 8925 N 12th St, in Phoenix. This bowling tournament brought together local bands, independent businesses and fans of Arizona’s local scene in a battle to determine the best bowlers in Phoenix.
On Wednesday, July 2, Local First Arizona is hosting a special Downtown Dinner with Pizza People Pub and the Phoenix Art Museum. The event starts at Pizza People Pub, where attendees will sample delicious food. Attendees will get to meet the owners and hear from special guest Phill Weddle, one of the architects behind the Hance Park redevelopment efforts. Next, attendees will head to the Phoenix Art Museum for a special tour of the Hollywood Costume Exhibit, featuring over 100 costumes from Hollywood films over the past century. Cost to attend is $20 per person, which includes food at Pizza People Pub and entry to the Hollywood Costume Exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Registration is open to the first 100 people.
Local First Arizona will also be holding their second annual Indie Week Pub Crawl on Thursday, July 3. Attendees will be visiting locally owned pubs around Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. Pub crawlers will visit several bars where they’ll enjoy drink specials and local trivia for fun prizes. More details to come on the LFA website and Facebook page.
Modified Arts’ upcoming gallery show will feature local artists Douglas Towne, Jeremy Rowe, and James Angel, who will be displaying works related to the history of Phoenix and Phoenix’s local business community. The show can be viewed during July’s First Friday on Friday, July 4, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The gallery show opens on Friday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m.
In addition to these events, there are other ways to participate in Independents Week and celebrate local businesses, including the return of the Golden Coupon (good for 20% off at participating Local First member businesses), contests, and more. Individuals are encouraged to check http://localfirstaz.com/independents-week/ for updates as they are made available.
Central Park. Hyde Park. Griffith Park. Millennium Park. All famous spots that have become integral to the cities they exist within. So what’s the defining park of Phoenix?
If you’re still searching for an answer, you’re not alone. But thanks to the efforts of what started as a small group of downtown citizens and has bloomed into the Hance Park Conservancy, the answer to that question may very soon be Margaret T. Hance Park.
The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, in collaboration with the Hance Park Conservancy, put out a call to professional design teams to submit their best ideas for a completely remodeled downtown park.
On Thursday, March 27, the master plans were revealed to an excited crowd at the park, just south of Burton Barr Central Library. Playing on a city that is large, sprawling, and interspersed into the natural geography, the proposed master plan for Hance Park will answer the vastness of Phoenix with its own buttes, ridges, and sprawling valleys.
Not to mention a beer garden, dog park, zip line, dedicated performance pavilion, a skate park, and a built-in irrigation system to support vegetation, among other new amenities. The proposed plan should reach completion in 10 years, at a budget of $118 million.
The selected team is comprised of locals and outsiders, with Lead Designer and Master Planner Jerry Van Eyck from !Melk, Prime Consultant Phil Weddle of Weddle Gilmore, and Landscape Architect Kris Floor of Floor Associates.
In order to keep the excitement and momentum set forth by the unveiling of the park’s plans, Weddle stressed the need to focus on the first set of changes coming to the space.
“We really need to focus on that catalytic first phase,” he said. “We believe that the most significant thing we can do is focus the early money on creating a signature gateway into the park at Central Avenue. That’s creating a vibrant urban plaza and the cloud that becomes the signature marker for this park.”
The cloud referred to is a collection of structures to be installed over Central Avenue marking the entrance to the park, and most resemble a small fleet of miniature alien space crafts, slowly descending upon the city.
Somewhat surprisingly, that $118 million price tag is reasonable when compared with parks of similar prominence throughout the United States. The cost breaks down to $3.7 million per acre, comparable to the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, which came in at $3.2 million per acre. Even Phoenix’s Civic Space Park, although smaller, came in slightly higher at $5.2 million per acre.
As Weddle described, the master plan is a long-term vision that will be funded through mixed initiatives.
“We are proposing to fund it through a public-private partnership. It’s really the model that shows the community is invested in the park as much as the public entity is. It’s a smart investment; it creates economic benefits for our community.”
Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, reminded attendees of the unveiling event that the price tag is not as intimidating as it seems.
“We have invested between $4 and $5 billion dollars in this downtown, and we need to have this park finished,” she said.
“You know, Chicago didn’t just wake up one day as a great city; it was built by the people just like you who lived in Chicago. I’m not saying this is going to be easy. There’s going to be people who tell us we can’t afford this. I argue we can’t afford not to do this.”
According to Weddle, the next areas of focus will be working with the city and Hance Park Conservancy to expand programming within the park as it is today, because, as he says, “I think it’s really important to try and build the vibrancy as quickly as possible and not necessarily wait for construction.”
Building the vibrancy would include both larger events, such as concerts and festivals, and smaller, day to day activities, such as yoga in the park.
The team is also working to map out funding strategies going forward, as there is no dedicated funding for construction at the moment, according to Weddle.
“For the public funding to be allocated it’s going to need to continue to be a priority for the community, and continue to be a priority for the city council leadership,” he said, adding that the team also has plans to begin exploration for a private capital campaign to match the public funds.
In addition to the first phase renovations to the plaza and clouds over Central Ave, the team is planning on making improvements to the performance pavilion a top priority, as it allows for new programming and partnerships with art and cultural organizations downtown.
Rendering images from the Hance Park Master Plan Report, courtesy of City of Phoenix.