Fuerza Local

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Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that encourages Arizona consumers to shop at locally owned, independent businesses, has established Fuerza Local to help Arizona Hispanic businesses to promote their products and increase their outreach. Kimber Lanning, the director of Local First Arizona, talks about the new group.

Jose Cardenas: local first Arizona is an organization that encourages Arizona consumers to spend their money at locally owned independent businesses. Now, the organization is focusing on a new effort called fuerza local, helping Hispanic businesses to promote their products and increase their outreach in the community. Joining me to talk about this is Kimber Lanning, director for local first Arizona. Also here is Rosa Macias, owner of del sol furniture and electronics. Welcome to both of you. Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." Kimber, you have been at this for a very long time.

Kimber Lanning: I founded local first Arizona in 2003. So this is our ninth year and we have grown to over 2,000 members across the state.

Jose Cardenas: Let's talk a little bit about that effort before we talk about this newest offshoot so to speak. Tell us about the concept and what success you have encountered so far.

Kimber Lanning: Well, the simple basic fact of economics is when you spend your money at a local business, three times more of that money stays in the local community and re-circulates. So when you choose a local business, and it can be a large business or small, large local businesses include bash or Hickman's or shamrock, they in turn hire local accountants and graphic designers and web developers. So more of that money stays right here in Arizona re-circulating and creates additional jobs here at home. So our organization is a nonprofit organization that educates consumers about the importance of spending their money locally and also encourages business to business support. So our Arizona companies can hire more local business services.

Jose Cardenas: What kind of success have you had thus far?

Kimber Lanning: We have had enormous success. We are the largest local business coalition in North America with over 2,000 members. We have encouraged a lot of different, we call it the shift. We have a campaign called shifting your money and we have had a lot of organizations, large and small, learn how they can makeshifts. So we have done several economic studies that have demonstrated the benefits, for example, question a study with SCF Arizona, the state's largest workers' compensation insurance company. They sourced 83% of their goods and services locally last year. What does that mean? It means that they directly employ 518 people but they indirectly supporting 3600 Arizona jobs because of the way they are awarding contract. Those dollars go, are going toward medical supplies, manufacturing, all sorts of jobs across the state of Arizona.

Jose Cardenas: Rosa, as incident it one of the reasons you have gotten involved in fuerza local is because of a feeling that the same issues are existing in the Hispanic community, Hispanic businesses have the same problem with competitors from out of the state and monies could stay in the community instead of going somewhere else.

Rosa Macias: Yes. As a business, as a local business, we really are interested in supporting this movement because we really want to support our state. And we decided to be part of this movement, trying to attract more Hispanic businesses, because they really need information.

Jose Cardenas: The sense, though, I think that a lot of people would have most Hispanic behaviors local. Or most businesses that cater to the Hispanic market are local. And so is there really the same issue? And my understanding from having talked to you before is that's a misimpression, that you have the exact same issues, maybe worse than the companies that are members or have been members of local first.

Rosa Macias:: We are hoping that at the time of small and not really small but the Hispanic businesses, they can see the sell furniture or it's part of this movement, they want to be here. They want to get information. They want to see, what are they doing? How this is working? And then that's the one that we want to do now.

Jose Cardenas: So what led you to get involved with Kimber and her efforts?

Rosa Macias: Mainly, it's because we have been here for too many years. We saw how the state is suffering because of the economic crisis in the past years. Now we have to fight because of the state.

Jose Cardenas: Kimber, what are the kinds of benefits that you offer, generally, and more specifically, to the participants in fuerza local?

Kimber Lanning: Sure. Well, first and foremost we offer mixers and information so that businesses can learn thousand do business with one another. And then we have a whole wide variety of benefits including discounts, whether it's benefits, discounts on nights at locally owned hotels or office supplies or anything that would take you to run that business. And then just being a part of a like-minded community. A lot of at the root of what we are doing is building civic pride. Many people moved here from somewhere else and they don't know which are our hometown companies. The question you posed a moment ago about most Latino-owned businesses would be local, i don't believe that's true simply because any large corporation is going to have dollars specifically to market to the Latino community. And those dollars very quickly leave Arizona. In fact, for every $100 you can spend at a non-local business only $13 is going to stay in Arizona. Large companies of all kinds are marketing to the Latinos here in Arizona, and those dollars are leaving at a very rapid pace.

Jose Cardenas: Now, some of the messages you are talking about translate literally equally well to the Hispanic community and I think people would see that. But there are things that you need to do differently for fuerza local as opposed to what you have done for local first from the?

Kimber Lanning: I believe that I have learned when we first started, I was trying, my Spanish is only so-so. I am working on that. And I wasn't delivering the message quite properly. And so we created a whole steering committee to help me think --

Jose Cardenas: You were trying do everyone before the creation of fuerza local?

Kimber Lanning: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jose Cardenas: Those efforts then led to the birth of fuerza local?

Kimber Lanning: Correct. I would speak in front of a Latino business organization, and i would feel great about it. And then I would hear back from my friends that people would say, that's interesting but what does it have to do with us? I wasn't really making a very good question because I wasn't explaining when dollars stay here, that impacts our children's future. That's our education system. Those dollars, every of time they re-circulate, they create additional tax revenue that goes into the programs that help us build prosperity for all of us.

Jose Cardenas: Rosa, Kimber talked about speaking to Latino business organizations. Presumably the Hispanic chamber of commerce offers some of the same benefits and services that you might get from fuerza local. So why would you be involved in fuerza local as opposed to being a participant in the Hispanic business?

Rosa Macias: We are going to try to create seminars and meetings and networking, trying to keep some of the businesses inside of this movement, not as part of any chamber of commerce. Because we are not doing the same as any chairman. This is a movement. We need to give information to the people. And then if we can give them information to the people, to the Hispanic people and the Spanish is going to be great because some of the businesses, they will prefer to speak in Spanish.

Jose Cardenas: What kinds of things have you done so far?

Rosa Macias: Actually, we are already had a couple of meetings. And they were successful because we had a lot of people in those meetings. And they are expecting the third one it's going to be next month, and we are going to create a directory, same as the one that we already have for the Anglo and all the general market. We are going to create directory of the Hispanic businesses. Some of the businesses, they already want to be there.

Jose Cardenas: And this would be a directory that would go to consumers saying here are local Hispanic business, patronize them?

Rosa Macias: That's the way they can distinguish one local business from another that's not local. If you go to local first or fuerza local.com you can find a directory that the way the people can really find local businesses.

Jose Cardenas: Kimber, I understand there's a recent survey information about how many days money circulates in the local, different ethnic communities. Maybe you can review that for us.

Kimber Lanning: There was a new study that just came out nationally that showed Asian individuals toned support Asian businesses at a much higher rate. So the average ration dollar stays in the Asian community and average of 28 days. That number, for the Anglo community, is 19 days. For the Jewish community it's 17 days. For the Latino community it's only seven days and for the African American community, it's only six hours. So what that means is that those communities are not necessarily thinking about spending with locally owned businesses right in their communities. They are potentially responding to advertising from large corporations where they are spending their money and then that money is leaving not only the state but more often than not, the country.

Jose Cardenas: But what can do you? Either one of you can answer that. What did can you do to combat that? Those figure for the African American and Latino community are pretty dismal. So what efforts can be taken to change that?

Rosa Macias: Talking about the Hispanic community, it's just information, José. We need to give information to the businesses and to the people. Because if they don't know the difference, if they don't know these numbers, they don't know, I think it's part of the culture. And then we need to give them information.

Jose Cardenas: The culture in the sense of people just assume that bigger is better? And -

Rosa Macias: That bigger is better, and they can spend less money on the bigger companies. Not necessarily is the way that really works but they think so.

Jose Cardenas: Isn't that legitimate? We are almost out of time but not to pick on any particular company because I know this is not an anti-big business but Wal-mart presumably their prices are cheaper and they might be for a local business. What's your response?

Kimber Lanning: Sure. I think that they are cheaper, some of the time but not all of the time. But my point is that cheap is costing us a fortune. We have outsourced our jobs by buying cheap goods manufactured far away and ultimately, we are all poorer because of that. So it's about understanding that, for example, Diane Sawyer did a piece on national television.

Jose Cardenas: We will not have too much time to go to the example.

Kimber Lanning: She said if every American could spend $11.60 a month it would create 330,000 jobs.

Jose Cardenas: We will spend $11 extra and things will get better. Thanks for joining us to talk about it.

Both: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: That is our show for this Thursday night. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Kimber Lanning:Director, Local First Arizona; Rosa Macias:Owner Del Sol Furniture and Electronics

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