Directory highlights Park City businesses
Homegrown businesses may get a boost this week.
Local First Utah will release its first-ever print directory, "Buy Local First," to more than 1,100 locally-owned businesses throughout the state.
"We are trying to list the locally-owned, independently operated businesses," said Gavin Noyes, the executive director for Local First Utah. "We’re trying to develop the consciousness of non-chains, businesses that are owned by community residents.
Noyes’ goal is to promote small businesses and Utah entrepreneurs. He’s seeking businesses that are part of the community rather than large chain stores.
"They add to the culture," Noyes said. "They are most in tune with the communities and are the ones usually giving to non-profits more often and provide better jobs and services."
It’s planned that businesses will begin distributing the free "Buy Local First" directories to the public June 28 to launch Independents’ Week, June 30 – July 8, which celebrates local businesses and the contributions they make toward strengthening communities, he said.
The 150-page directory’s aim is to help people find local companies to meet their everyday needs. The book will list businesses in 81 Utah cities and towns, including many in Park City, which Noyes said is a place he wants Local First Utah to further its growth.
"I think Park City has got great potential for this taking off there," Noyes said. "My sense is there’s a lot of enthusiasm for getting started in Park City. We would like to see a business aspect in Park City to have a steering committee to let all the businesses know what we are doing and the benefits it can bring and really get it moving. We have businesses there that can really make it happen. Its’ a matter of getting Park City residents excited too."
Local First Utah started a Web site a little over a year ago detailing where Utah businesses are. Noyes said they are getting 400,000 hits a month now, and recently, Noyes and the organization wanted to put it into print to make better use of the information.
"The print directory is an offshoot of our Web directory," Noyes said. "But the Web is limited because when you are driving around town, or you don’t like looking around on the Internet. The print directory is handy to put in your glove box and just grab it when you are looking for something."
In the first 45 hours after Noyes announced Local First Utah would be writing the directory, 175 businesses signed up to be part of it.
"Our business partners are really excited about it," Noyes said. "There’s a ton of enthusiasm about it, and the public kept asking me if it was out yet."
Noyes said there is great value in supporting businesses that are run by neighbors and the community.
"There’s a great study that came out of San Francisco that showed if San Francisco shifted 10 percent of their spending toward local businesses, it would create 100,000 new jobs and $200,000 in the local economy."
If the same number went toward chain stores, Noyes said San Francisco would lose similar numbers.
"That’s a pretty amazing impact in that shift of economy," Noyes said.
Noyes also hopes this will provide life-saving information for companies forced to move like the businesses in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake and others that don’t have the cash flow to advertise. His goal is also to steer people away from large corporations and spend locally.
"Our job is to get any local business that qualifies to sign up with us and we can show people how they can find them and get to know them," Noyes said. "We hope this will make an incremental shift in people’s spending habits."
This will also benefit tourism, he said.
"It’s a huge component; we have Leigh von der Esch (the managing director for the Utah Office of Tourism) on our board. She goes around and talks about the importance of locally owned businesses," Noyes said.
Noyes said when visitors come to Utah, they don’t want to visit restaurants or other businesses they also see at home.
"They want something unique," Noyes said. "Park City has done a better job than most communities with their zoning restrictions early on. They’ve taken some pretty good steps."
In the hands of tourists, this could help further Park City’s economy.
"We are going to be getting the local directory in the hands of tourists to find tools so they can know where they are. It’s going to be especially relevant to Park City. People do need to realize that these local businesses have so much more value on so many levels, especially if you’re a tourist destination."
For various reasons, locally-owned businesses have it hard, Noyes said.
"Government subsidizes chain stores to come into the communities, which makes it harder for existing businesses to survive and bring in jobs."
But, he said, retail will change based on individual shopping habits.
"We tend to put the responsibility in the hands of community residents," Noyes said. "It’s our job to seek out the places that we want to represent our community. There’s not a lot we can do to keep the chain stores out, but if there’s other community businesses, it’s our job to support them."
Ultimately, he added, it’s up to the consumer, but he expects the directory will be some help.
"I hope it will be a really useful tool for people to use," Noyes said.
For more information, visit http://www.localfirst.org.
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