Tag Archives: Local First

Measure What Matters: River City Improv is a force for good

By Local First

This is an installment in Local First’s Measure What Matters series where Local First Members who have taken the Quick Impact Assessment are interviewed and asked how the assessment has helped them use their business as a force for good and be Good for Grand Rapids.

Started by a group of Calvin College alumni back in the 1993, River City Improv has been making Grand Rapids residents laugh for over 20 years. Since its inception, River City Improv has evolved into a comedy group that’s passionate about making a positive difference in West Michigan through fun and witty humor.

“We love making people laugh – it’s how we give back to the community,” said Rick Treur, co-founder and business manager for River City Improv. “Many of our performers also make a positive difference by donating their time and talents to various nonprofits around Grand Rapids.”

River City Improv entertains audiences using comedic improvisation. Many of their shows weave together skits, games, and songs with audience suggestions to create a unique show every time. Hosting approximately 20 public shows and up to 40 private shows per year, River City Improv still makes time for volunteering. Some of the ways they give back are by performing volunteer shows or donating free passes to nonprofits for auctions. If a performer is involved with a nonprofit, they can also donate a performance to the organization of their choice.

River City Improv joined Local First in 2010 and Treur recently took Local First’s Quick Impact Assessment to identify more opportunities for River City Improv to make a positive impact.

“Getting involved with Local First seemed like a natural fit for River City Improv because of our commitment to giving back to the community,” said Treur. “We took the Quick Impact Assessment because we like supporting B Corp values and believe it’s important to be mindful of what we’re doing as a business.”

When taking the Quick Impact Assessment, Treur realized there were many practices that he could be tracking and measuring for River City Improv. One of Treur’s major takeaways from the assessment was learning about the significance of buying local and using sustainable products for their shows.

“Even though we are a small business, the Quick Impact Assessment made me realize that there are things we can do better,” said Treur. “You can make a positive impact in the community no matter the size of your business, field, industry or level of community involvement.”

Treur added that getting involved with Good for Grand Rapids has been a great way to strengthen the community by showing support for local businesses.

“Look around at our local businesses in Grand Rapids and you’ll notice that many of them have a global reach and can have a positive impact on the world,” said Treur. “By using our resources for good and being thoughtful about how we run our business, we can make a difference in our local community, West Michigan and beyond.”

Interested in learning how your business performs against best practices on employee, community and environmental impact? Take the Quick Impact Assessment today to learn how much good your business is doing for the local economy and community at localfirst.com/sustainability/measure-what-matters. Meet these and other values-aligned businesses at the Measure What Matters Workshop on June 21!


Local First presents ‘Measure What Matters’ workshop June 21

By Local First


Grab a beer and join the equity and inclusion conversation! The next Measure What Matters workshop will explore the importance of viewing our local economy through an inclusive lens. This workshop will host a discussion focusing on the resources available to build your business, implement access forward principles, and strengthen positive communication between staff. Attendees will walk away with the knowledge to craft an inclusion and equity statement and turn it into a company-wide policy.


Measure What Matters is part of Local First’s ‘Good for Grand Rapids’ initiative that brings together and celebrates companies using business as a force for good. These companies have a demonstrated commitment to positive environmental and social change in Grand Rapids and beyond by creating high-quality jobs, stronger communities and a healthier Great Lakes region. The initiative offers resources and best practices for sustainability and social good.


Companies — of all sizes and all industries — are encouraged to see how they stack up against other businesses in the nation and determine how much good they do for the local economy by using an online Quick Impact Assessment tool here. It takes 30-60 minutes to complete.

Measure What Matters Workshop

When:  Wednesday, June 21 — 3-5 pm

Where:  LINC UP, 1167 Madison Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI

Price: $10 (Local First Members)-$15 (Nonmembers)




Hack the QIA! Local First will also be available to help attendees through the QIA — bring your laptop or mobile device!


Paul Doyle, Inclusive Performance Strategies


Jill Vyn and Chris Smit, DisArt
Topic: Creating access forward principles in small business


Dawn Helou, HR Director, Gordon Food Service
Topic: Written policies, how to enforce and encourage conversation amongst staff


Paul Doyle, Inclusive Performance Strategies
Topic: Creating an Inclusion and Equity statement for your business


Breannah Alexander, Partners for a Racism Free Community
Topic: Taking it steps beyond an equity and inclusion statement — creating company-wide policy.




Celebrating all things local at the LocalFirst Street Party


Local music, local food, and of course local beer, will once again be part of the annual LocalFirst Street Party set for June 3.


The 14th annual LocalFirst Street Party will run from 3 p.m. – midnight in the parking lot near Bistro Bella Vita, 44 Grandville Ave. SW, in downtown Grand Rapids.


“The Local First Street Party celebrates the vibrant and diverse local talent we have in Michigan,” said LocalFirst President Elissa Hillary. “From the music and performers to the food and beverage, it’s all evidence that the work we do is supporting and bringing together a strong community.”


New to this year’s event is an expanded kids area with the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Sanctuary Folk Art providing programming. Also the Happy Henna will be providing Henna tattoos and there will be an interactive photo booth by Smitten Booth.


Of course, if you are crafty, there will be lots of sidewalk chalk available to decorate the streets. Also returning to this year’s event with activities for everyone are 61Syx Technique Street Dance Academy, Audacious Hoops, and AM Yoga.


If you are looking to bust a groove, local groups such as The Crane Wives, Molly Bouwsma-Schultz & Friends, Cabildo, Convotronics, JRob & Bedrock: The Foundation, Hollywood Makeout, and Wealthy & Diamond will be providing the music to do just that.


Of course food is always on the mind whenever attending the LocalFirst Street Party and there will be plenty of it from a number of local restaurants and food trucks. This year’s line up includes A Moveable Feast, Love’s Ice Cream, Daddy Pete’s BBQ, The Maine Dish, Patty Matters, What the Truck, Twisted Rooster, Grand Rapids Pizza and Delivery, The Candied Yam and Malamiah Juice Bar.


And of course, you have to have something to wash it all down with and local favorites as Founders, Brewery Vivant, Mitten Brewing Company, Farmhaus, and Cider Company will all be on hand providing a range of local beverages to choose from. There also will be free water from Gordon Water.


“We are so grateful for all the support we receive of over 50 sponsors and community partners,” Hillary said. “The Street Party is one of the biggest ways we have to show off what local ownership and collaboration means for West Michigan.”


For more information and updates on the event, visit localfirst.com or follow #LFStreetParty.

Shopping Small Business Saturday helps local economy

Locally owned: Fruit Basket Flowerland
Locally owned: Fruit Basket Flowerland

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



We hear a lot about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but sandwiched in between is probably the one shopping day that has the most impact on a local economy: Small Business Saturday.


Actually launched by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is designed to encourage people across the country to support small, local businesses. The reason is simple according to Bob O’Callaghan, president and chief executive officer for the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce.


“When you shop at a small business you help feed a local family and their tax dollars stay local,” O’Callaghan said.


According to a recent Forbes magazine article, there are 28 million American small businesses, which account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales.


“The backbone of any economy is the local brick and mortar buildings that belong to the small business,” O’Callaghan said, adding that the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce is made up of 75 percent small and local businesses.


Cheers to the holidays: Cascade Winery
Cheers to the holidays: Cascade Winery

According to Local First of West Michigan, by shifting 10 percent of your spending towards locally owned business helps create up to 1,600 new jobs. The American public appears to be making that shift since according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, commissioned by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, more than 95 million people shopped small business in 2015, which is an 8 percent increase from the 2014 Small Business Saturday. The survey also shows that more than 16 billion was spent at small independent businesses on the 2015 Small Business Saturday.


“Small Business Saturday is a great entry point to start learning about and supporting local businesses,” said LocalFirst Marketing Manager Mieke Stoub. “We hope that the community continues to support our local economy after the holidays and throughout the year.”

Local First: Taking a look at the new Knickerbocker Brewpub and Distillery

defaultlf_knickerbocker2It’s no secret that Grand Rapids is a hub for craft beer activity. “Beer City” has over a dozen breweries providing countless options of well-made ales, lagers, pilsners, and stouts. On top of the beer explosion, the rise of rustic-style restaurants and distilleries that pay homage to a cultural history has grown with the help of a community who is taking the time to consider what they’re eating and drinking.


This set of ideals fits in perfectly with the culture at New Holland Brewing Company. It’s one of the major reasons the Holland-based beer and spirits brand opened The Knickerbocker Brewpub and Distillery on the west side of Grand Rapids. Opening its doors last week with a seating capacity ore more than 400, The Knickerbocker will serve as a space to showcase what New Holland considers the craft lifestyle: sourcing local wherever possible and exploring new and reimagined recipes.


Located in an area steeped in Grand Rapids heritage, The Knickerbocker will highlight the cultures imbedded in the Westside. The menu includes known dishes such as Galumpkis and Smoked Kielbasa and Kraut alongside modern additions including a Black Bean Farro Burger and Smoked Tempe Burger. And while many people recognize New Holland as a big player in the Michigan craft beer scene, the new location will also highlight their growing spirits catalogue. New Holland’s award-winning whiskies, rums, and gins are featured in the upstairs lounge manned by well-educated bartenders. The lounge will feature a large library of specialty spirits designed to bring out the best in the base spirit to make room for even more creativity in their cocktails.


defaultknickerbocker_squareAt New Holland, craft is more than just a buzzword; it’s a choice that enables both the restaurant and its patrons to think about their meal. If it’s a beer, a cocktail, or a dish, The Knickerbocker makes it with purpose. So celebrate and raise a glass to a great addition to the Grand Rapids community!


The Knickerbocker is located at 417 Bridge St. NW. For more information, visit newhollandbrew.com/theknickerbocker.


This article is courtesy of Local First. WKTV Community Media is a member of Local First.

Organic farmer Anthony Flaccavento discusses sustainable development

Anthony Flaccavento
Anthony Flaccavento

Local First will host Anthony Flaccavento this fall as part of the organization’s fall celebrations. Flaccavento is an organic farmer, small business owner, author and activist who has worked for more than 30 years to strengthen the economy and food system in both rural and urban settings. He speaks about the importance of sustainable development.


His book Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real-World Experience for Transformative Change (Culture Of The Land) connects a broad foundation of experience with a clear economic analysis and an array of public policy ideas that, taken together, help point the way towards more widely shared prosperity and a more resilient, vibrant economy. It is a call-to-action for innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, community activists, environmentalists and all citizens who want to create thriving, locally-based economies, and a more just, sustainable world.


The presentation will be at Holland’s Windmill Island Gardens, 1 Lincoln Ave., Holland, at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27. Then celebrate the season at Coppercraft for the Lakeshore Fork Fest at 6 p.m. More information about both events at localfirst.com/events.


Chef Cook-Off at Lakeshore Fork Fest: Coppercraft Distillery vs. Butch’s Dry Dock


defaultcoppercraft_squareJoin the Lakeshore community for an evening of flavors, brews, baked goods and more at Coppercraft Distillery! The chef from Coppercraft Distillery will go head-to-head with Butch’s Dry Dock in a live cook-off. Each restaurant will compete to create the most mouth-watering dish using items provided by a Visser Farms.


Presenting sponsor, Coppercraft Distillery, is working with the Township to finalize plans to build a kitchen making the Lakeshore Fork Fest a good opportunity to showcase their Chef and some of the food they’d like to offer in the near future. According to General Manager Paul Marantette, “Local First does great work and it is always fun joining their team to plan a successful event!” Look for Coppercraft at other community events throughout the year. So far in 2016 Coppercraft Distillery has participated in four large-scale events including being the official sponsor of Tulip Time for the third consecutive year.


Coppercraft Distillery started in Holland in 2012 by Kim and Walter Catton when they decided to take their passion for whiskey and bourbon to a new level by opening a distillery. Marantette says Coppercraft “focuses on a premium product using quality ingredients from the very start with our grain that comes from a farm just five miles from our location, to the locally sourced produce and citrus we incorporate into our cocktail program.” Coppercraft chooses to support local businesses such as Central Park Market and the Farmers Market to secure these needs, and let the freshest ingredients speak for themselves as featured on the weekly cocktail specials menu.


Coppercraft will host this year’s Lakeshore Fork Fest, which will feature samples from an array of local food vendors while you enjoy the live cook-off. The cook-off will feature a Chef from Butch’s Dry Dock and Chef Kelsey Winter-Troutwine of Coppercraft Distillery. The Grand Rapids native has spent the last six years working in some of the finest restaurants in downtown Chicago – most recently as a Sous Chef at mk The Resturant, a staple in the Chicago dining scene.


Feast on an array of flavors with Local First at the Lakeshore Fork Fest on Tuesday, September 27 from 6-8:30 PM at Coppercraft Distillery. For tickets, click here.


To learn more about Local First and upcoming events, visit the group’s website, www.localfirst.com.

2016 Annual Meeting and LocalMotion Awards Wednesday, Jan. 27

localmotion award logo

By Local First


Local First will host its 6th Annual Meeting and LocalMotion Awards on January 27, 2016, at the Goei Center. For those not well-versed in the subject, there are six LocalMotion Awards including the Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award, Triple Bottom Line Award (one longstanding business and one up-­and-­coming business), Mover & Shaker Award, Local Hero Award, and Change Agent Award.


The LocalMotion Awards began in 2011 as a way to promote best business practices and recognize the achievements of local businesses and individuals in the community, such as outstanding work in sustainability and making the community more vibrant and resilient.

localmotion awards


All awards will be given during the Annual Meeting. Tickets are $40 and available online here. For descriptions of these awards and previous winners, go here. The event takes place from 5-8 pm at the Goei Center, 818 Butterworth St. SW, Grand Rapids.


Nominations for the awards were submitted by community members and businesses. Anyone could nominate a local business or an individual who exemplifies the qualities a specific award honors. Nominees then filled out an application and took the Local First and B Corporation’s Quick Impact Assessment in order to provide sustainability metrics. An award committee made up of business owners and community stakeholders selected the winners.


Nominees for the LocalMotion Awards include the following people and businesses:

616 Development
AL&S Green Solutions
Art of the Table
Black Heron Kitchen & Bar
Bob Schulze
Boxed GR
Brewery Vivant
Butch’s Dry Dock
Catalyst Partners
Community Automotive
Coppercraft Distillery
Dan Broersma
David Lokker
Eastown Veterinary Clinic
EcoBuns Natural Parenting and Baby Boutique
EPS Security
Furniture City Creamery
Gazelle Sports
Girlfriends Fit Club
Globe Design and Vision
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
Grand Rapids Wellness
Harmony Brewing
Harmony Hall
Harvest Health Foods
Heather Vandyke-Titus
iChiro Clinics
Ken Freeston
Kylen Blom
Love’s Ice Cream
Luna Taqueria y Cocina
Madcap Coffee
Mixed Staffing
Salt and Pepper Grille and Pub
Shawn Mielke
Silkscreen Marketing
Simpatico Coffee
Sip Organic Juice Bar
SO Awesome
Swift Printing
Tacos El Cunado
Thad Cummings
The Meanwhile Bar
The Pyramid Scheme
The Rapid
Urban Roots Farm
Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

Local First’s Discover your Local Treasure campaign begins this week

David Abbott at Art of the Table--Local First


Largest campaign to date will encourage West Michigan residents to shop local via special advertisements and interactive events.
By Samantha Vanderberg
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – For the first time ever, Local First is putting up billboards and placing web advertisements – ALL over West Michigan. The message is simple: support the people that live in your community by shopping local. West Michigan is full of locally owned businesses that make this place unique. The Discover Your Local Treasure campaign will give business owners the chance to tell their stories and community members the platform to share their local treasures.
A Local Treasure is a locally-owned business or organization that has brought something special into your life. It could be your favorite ice cream shop, bookstore, or coffee joint. The museum you go to with your kids or the place you take your car for repair. It is the place you tell your friends about and the place you take your out of town guests to visit. A Local Treasure is unique. It is one of a kind. And it contributes to your quality of life and to our community in a meaningful way.
This campaign will run from now through April 2014. In November alone, the campaign will receive 36 million impressions from West Michigan residents, and over the duration, the campaign will make over 200 million impressions.
Gazelle Sports --Local First
For years, the Local First board and members have been asking Local First to do a large-scale general awareness campaign. We are especially interested in reaching those who have never thought about the importance of buying local, which is why we are using advertising mediums we’ve never used before.
“At Local First, we get to work with our community’s local treasures on a daily basis. Through this campaign, we get to share the behind-the-scenes stories about the local businesses and owners that positively impact our community. In addition, we’ll be asking community members to tell their stories about how our local businesses have positively impacted their lives,” said Elissa Hillary, Executive Director of Local First. “We want people to discover and share their local treasures, which will deepen connections between businesses and consumers and remind our community of how special West Michigan is.”
Community members will have many opportunities to engage with the campaign, whether it is through posting on social media outlets or participating in some of the campaign’s events.
  • The third annual Online Holiday Auction will be open for bids through midnight on Wednesday, November 27.
  • Local First will be hosting screenings of It’s a Wonderful Life in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Grand Haven in December.
  • Local First will also debut a HUGE shopping bag sculpture at the Holland Holiday Open House next Saturday (the 23rd) that you won’t want to miss! This interactive sculpture will be making appearances throughout West Michigan in the next several months.
  • Share your local treasure on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram with hashtags #mylocaltreasure and #ourlocaltreasure

Yoga   Photo Credit-James Richard Fry Photography