The Chicago metro area – also known as Chicagoland – is home to some 9.4 million people and more than 200,000 small businesses. As the third largest metro area in the country, those small businesses have a large economy to support. Fortunately, Local First Chicago offers the tools and expertise that Chicagoland small businesses need to keep their neighborhoods running smoothly.
Managed by volunteers from the local business community, Local First Chicago seeks to strengthen Chicago’s neighborhood economies by promoting the independent businesses that exist around the city. To do this, Local First Chicago maintains a local business directory, where consumers can find locally and independently owned Chicagoland businesses online. There’s also a directory where local events can be posted.
Beyond its own activities, Local First Chicago also arms local businesses with information and materials they can use to declare their independence within their neighborhoods. For instance, local businesses can request a Local First Chicago decal to display in their storefront. That way, residents and visitors alike can easily identify local businesses around town. Similarly, themed posters for Local First Chicago’s various shop local campaigns are available for download.
Chicago’s small businesses can also benefit from the various buy-local studies that have been carried out within the city’s neighborhoods. Specifically, Local First Chicago provides information about two groundbreaking Civic Economics studies: In the Chicagoland neighborhood of Andersonville, Civic Economics found that, for every $100 spent, small businesses keep $25 more in the local economy than national chains. Meanwhile, in Six Corners, Civic Economics found that a market shift of just 10 percent of consumer activity from national chains to independent businesses would retain an additional $2 billion in the regional economy every year. Together, these studies give Chicago’s local business community a powerful, measured foundation on which to advocate.
For small businesses to thrive in a big city, they must promote themselves – and the buy local movement – in loud ways. In the Windy City, the small business community benefits from encouraging data and the resources of Local First Chicago. For more information, visit www.localfirstchicago.org.