Photo Credit: Autumn Silva Photography
From the perspective of an in-the-trenches entrepreneur, Local First Milwaukee is one of the few organizations that truly represents a small Milwaukee business looking to be profitable and community oriented.
Starting a business can be overwhelming to say the least. A few weeks ago, I learned the Small Business Administration defines as a “small business” any company generating up to $25 million in annual revenue. Needless to say, the interests of my own small wedding and event floral design firm, Floral Alchemy, don’t exactly match those of some $20+ million conglomerate. The weight of those bigger “small” businesses tends to overshadow the needs of us tinier small businesses. It seems clear that, while the SBA is helpful in certain areas, it can’t truly advocate for the type of business I am interested in growing.
Additionally, I was asked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce if they could interview me for a series focusing on states affected by a potential policy shift away from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The interview request seemed odd since Floral Alchemy sources about 90% of its product from American grown farms. Still, we are an American business that relies on other countries for natural product in certain situations (especially as weather patterns and growing seasons becomes increasingly unpredictable). Through the interview, I’d hoped to represent the smaller businesses who prioritize local consumption, yet also recognize their unique position within the global marketplace to affect change — but it turned out the Chamber couldn’t really represent my company’s ideals either.
Eventually it hit me. I already have an organization representing the community-centered ideals of Floral Alchemy: Local First Milwaukee. In a world that seems to continually reward companies seeking world domination, it’s refreshing to find a group of local businesses and business leaders who see the importance of keeping things local and investing in our communities as their priority.
My favorite aspects of Local First Milwaukee are…
- Their commitment to local businesses by operating in, around and through the very businesses they promote
- Community education about the benefits of spending local
- Promotion of like-minded businesses to a group of locally minded consumers
- Their advocacy for interests that benefit the small business community of Milwaukee
- The events they hold to introduce the community to its local businesses
- Their commitment to keeping members informed of important developments at the local, state and national level
- Their networking events at various local establishments that allow hard-working, thoughtful and committed Milwaukeeans to seek out and share knowledge, support and a sense of community
- Their ability to gather and support a group of people who see the unique value and potential in Milwaukee as a more sustainable community for all its citizens
I’ve experienced more benefits than I can name from my participation in Local First Milwaukee, both for my business and for me personally. I feel a little like Goldilocks after my experience with other organizations, and it’s nice to finally find one that’s just the right fit with the resources and support I need to be successful. I appreciate everything Local First Milwaukee does and represents, and I encourage everyone I meet to check them out and see what they have to offer.