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Local First awards leaders in community involvement

Community business nonprofit celebrates fourth annual award show with 616 Development, CityFlatsHotel, Spoonlickers, TerraTrike, Jamiel Robinson and Laurie Beard.

Get in touch with Local First:

955 Wealthy St. SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Phone (616) 808-3788E-mail [email protected]

Laurie Beard receives her Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award presented by Elissa Hillary.

Laurie Beard receives her Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award presented by Elissa Hillary. /Photography by Grand Rapids Photographer Tiberius Images

Local First celebrated their fourth annual LocalMotion awards Tuesday, January 28 at the Goei Center. The event celebrated local entrepreneurship and awarded 616 Development, TerraTrike, CityFlats, Spoonlickers, Jamiel Robinson and Laurie Beard for their work in the community.

The Change Agent Award was awarded to 616 Development for their work in renovating four dilapidated buildings for mixed-use and revitalizing communities in urban neighborhoods.

The Local Hero Award is an honor given to a community member who pushes their community toward sustainable living and local purchasing. This year, it was presented to Jamiel Robinson for his work as the founder and CEO of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses. With his “30 days, 30 dollars” challenge, Robinson has promoted economic equity in black neighborhoods by encouraging people to spend money at locally owned black businesses.

The Mover and Shaker Award was presented to a business that demonstrated a shift to local in their supply chain in the last 12 months. This year, the receipient of that award was Spoonlickers. The frozen yogurt business sources exclusively local dairy, local produce when in season, and creates nearly all toppings in house.

The Triple Bottom Line Award was split into two subsets: Best Longstanding Business Award and Best Up and Coming Business Award. Triple Bottom Line awards are given to businesses that demonstrate strong commitment to the triple bottom line, which analyzes the economic, social and environmental effects of business.

The Longstanding Business Award went to TerraTrike. As the largest manufacturer of recumbent tricycles in the world, their product and day-to-day business conduct, says Local First, exemplify a sustainable business and lifestyle.

CityFlatsHotel was the winner of the Up and Coming Business Award. Their commitment to social and environmental causes through LEED Gold Certification and sourcing food and other products locally earned the young hotel this honor.

The Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award, a lifetime achievement award, was presented to Laurie Beard, President and CEO of Founders Bank & Trust. Beard’s history of advocacy for local business and participation with Local First has made her an example of successful local living economy.

Local First Executive Director Elissa Hillary’s State of Local address summarized a successful year for West Michigan businesses and Local First. In the last year, Local First tripled the number of membership events and hosted over 600 entrepreneurs. At these events, 90% of attendees said they made “meaningful connections.”

Hillary also discussed the progress of a current campaign operated by Local First, Local Treasures. The campaign is being used to increase awareness of small businesses and shift spending back to the community.

Local First plans to continue with the Local Treasures campaign at least through April, enhance community education, host the first annual INSight conference and continue to nurture the community of local food establishments.

Bing Goei, CEO of sponsor Eastern Floral and the Goei Center, spoke at the event in praise of multicultural connections within the Grand Rapids area and encouraged business leaders to strengthen those ties with growing minority populations.

Chris Lampen-Crowell, owner of Gazelle Sports, praised the local entrepreneurial explosion.

“We are the relationships that combine to create this living local economy,” said Lampen-Crowell.

The evening included food and drink sponsored by local vendors Art of the TableConnie’s CakesEssence Restaurant GroupGrocer’s Daughter ChocolateLove’s Ice CreamMadcap CoffeePropaganda DoughnutsSupermercado MexicoTerraGR and Twisted Rooster.

Kyle Dobrowolski of Essence Group noted his appreciation of working with Local First. One of Essence Group’s restaurants, Bistro Bella Vita, is homebase to Local First’s annual Street Party. Dobrowolski says the nonprofit gives the restaurant group the opportunity to make community connections for Bistro Bella Vita as well as their other restaurants, Grove and The Green Well.

While Local First now connects with approximately 750 businesses in West Michigan, Tom Scheidel has been working with them since they had less than 200. Husband to Mary Scheidel of Connie’s Cakes, Scheidel is a former member of the Chamber of Commerce. He notes his preference of working with Local First because he says it gives business owners the opportunity to work one on one to make real connections and changes in the community.

Photography by Grand Rapids Photographer Tiberius Images


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