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Give (back) locally

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IMG_0814This time of year, we often think of buying unique, locally-made or sold items to give to loved ones. And there are plenty of ways to do so (check out our gift guide!), but if you want to Give Local without adding to your pile of things, a great option is to give to a local nonprofit.

Portland Buy Local has many non-profit members who are great candidates for your year-end giving. As part of our ongoing “Shift to Local” campaign, this December we are encouraging Portland residents and visitors to shift a portion of their gifting and giving to local, independent businesses and nonprofits.

As part of that campaign, we are featuring one of our nonprofit members: Wayside Food Programs. Approximately 1 in 6 Maine households are food insecure. Wayside is working to reduce that number. They are a small operation making a huge impact in our community. Last year, Wayside had some amazing numbers:

  • Reached 3,000 children through their kids’ healthy snack program to ensure they have a full belly while learning. They also distribute free books to kids!
  • Coordinating the distribution of 2,000 boxes of food to seniors each month
  • Re-directed 980,000 pounds of edible food away from the waste stream
  • Shared 29,000 meals with the community through their 11 weekly partner host sites.
  • Distributed 40,000 pounds of local food!IMG_0817

Many people don’t know it, but food waste is actually one of the biggest contributors toward greenhouse gases, so Wayside’s ability to rescue nearly 980,000 pounds of edible food that would have gone into the waste stream is particularly important. They redirected this food to 50 partner agencies, helping to reduce food waste while ensuring Mainers have enough to eat.

They also run a mobile food pantry in four residential communities, with a mix of fresh foods, which makes it easier for busy families (or those with limited access to transportation) to get healthy foods.

Portland’s nonprofit sector lifts up our whole community through their work. Let’s give back and give thanks by supporting them! Consider shifting an additional 10% of your gifting and giving this month to local, independent businesses and non-profits to build community and entrepreneurship, while keeping Portland independent!

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Independents Week 2017

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Join Portland Buy Local this summer as we celebrate Independents Week, July 1-7. Independents week is a national campaign to engage local independent businesses and citizens in celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom our local businesses embody.

Events:

July 1-7: Afternoon tea tastings from Maine and New England at Dobra Tea
July 1-30: Find Waldo Game
July 1: 1pm-3pm Cellar Door Wine Tasting with food by Cue Culture at LeRoux Kitchen
July 2: Ice cream demo tasting at LeRoux Kitchen
July 6: Afternoon PR Craft chocolate & 4-6 Honeymaker Mead wine tasting
Deals: 
Krucial Cos will offer 20% off total purchase of $20 or more, all week long! Krucial Cos features handmade items from owner Kaitlyn McCarthy, as well as other Maine-made brands.

On Shop Small Saturday – and all year – buying local benefits us all

Articles, In the Media, Member Updates, Uncategorized  

Originally published in the Portland Press Herald. 

Residents of Portland are used to seeing the little blue “Buy Local” stickers in store windows and on automobile bumpers. The stickers are from Portland Buy Local, a group whose mission is “to support locally owned, independent businesses in Portland, to maintain (Portland’s) unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, build community economic strength and prevent the displacement of community-based businesses by national and global chains.”

Nov. 26 is Shop Small Saturday all across our great country. It’s a day set aside for holiday shopping at independently owned businesses and an opportunity to get out with friends and family to shop, dine and meet the small-business owners who make our city the unique place it is.

Why should purchasing from local vendors matter to the citizens of the Portland area? Shopping at small, independently owned businesses brings our community together and keeps more money in our local Maine economy.

A 2011 study conducted by the Maine Center for Economic Policy and funded by Portland Buy Local concluded that each $100 spent at a locally owned business generates $58 in “additional economic impact,” compared to $33 in additional economic impact on the local economy when purchasing from a national chain – a difference of 76 percent.

My partner and I operate a local payroll and accounting firm in downtown Portland named Local Economy. It’s not a retail operation, like those where you’ll be shopping on Small Business Saturday, but after reading the Maine Center for Economic Policy study, I was interested in seeing how much of each dollar spent at our business stays in the Maine economy.

My goal is to share with you where your money goes after you spend it at our company, and then attempt to explain how that might compare when the same transactions are made with companies that have a local office in Maine, but have corporate headquarters out of state, or when money is spent online with companies that don’t have any physical presence in Maine.

My study concluded that 69 cents of every dollar spent at our business stays in Maine:

 27 cents of every dollar was paid as net salaries to employees. That is actual take-home pay that goes into employees’ bank accounts after withholding federal and state taxes.

 14 cents of each dollar was net profit that went to the local Maine owners of our company.

 8 cents was paid to Community Health Options, a health insurance company headquartered in Lewiston.

• 6 cents went to our local Portland landlord for rent.

 6 cents was paid to the state of Maine in the form of state income tax withholdings, state unemployment insurance, state payroll processing bond insurance and state business licenses.

The remaining 8 cents that was put back into the local Maine economy went to independent vendors for office supplies, a locally owned moving company (we moved our office last year), our local computer repair guru, our local electrician (who’s helped with wiring our new office), a local security monitoring company, a local paper shredding company, a local attorney, local restaurants and our local bank in the form of interest and bank fees, plus a few others.

Compare this with buying from a retailer that has a local office in Maine but maintains its corporate headquarters outside the state. Yes, the local office provides jobs for Mainers and possibly rental income to local landlords, but some portion of the dollars you spend with those companies pays for the salaries of out-of-state executives and corporate staff.

Those out-of-state workers aren’t paying Maine state income tax, and goods purchased by the corporate office aren’t charged Maine sales tax. It’s a good bet that their budget for office supplies, legal advice, security systems and entertainment isn’t spent in Maine, either.

Now consider how much of your money will stay in Maine when you purchase from an online retailer that doesn’t have an office in Maine. The answer is: pretty much zero!

The point is to keep local businesses in mind, especially at this time of year. I encourage you to shop locally this holiday season. Independently owned businesses are a vital component of what makes Maine and the Portland area such an amazing place to live.

We understand that what benefits us benefits you – and, just as importantly, what benefits you benefits us. All of us, the independent business owners and our customers, are what make our community unique and give Maine such an incredible sense of place.

Tom Gangewer is a member of the board of directors of Portland Buy Local and partner at the Portland payroll and accounting firm Local Economy.

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Portland Buy Local Mixer at Maine Historical Society

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Mark your calendars for Thursday, November 3rd, and join us for our next Portland Buy Local mixer! The mixer will be held at the Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, from 5:30 – 7:00pm.
 
When: Thursday, November 3rd, 5:30 – 7:00pm
 
Where: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street
 
Buy Local Member Mixers are informal networking and social events for members, friends, and anyone who would like to know more about Portland Buy Local. Come unwind and catch up with other indie biz enthusiasts, plus get updates on the latest happenings in the Buy Local scene. Portland Buy Local mixers are generously supported by Sebago Brewing Company.
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2016 Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance – Portland Buy Local Annual Meeting Report

Articles, In the Media, News, News & Events, Organizational Documents  

History

The Portland Buy Local campaign was launched in July 2006 by Portland business owners and citizens hoping to counteract the rising influence of national chains through collective marketing and education. After receiving an enthusiastic response from both businesses and residents, the initial working group incorporated the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance (PIBCA) in September 2006 and formed the organization’s first Board of Directors and Advisory Board.

In its ten-year history, PIBCA has welcomed more than 750 business members, with a current annual average of 400 members. Members proudly utilize free Portland Buy Local window decals, posters, and countertop thank-you cards, while supporters wear t-shirts, display bumper stickers, and carry canvas shopping totes throughout the Greater Portland area. We have so much to celebrate after our first decade, thanks to you: our members.

2006

  • Established in July and incorporated in September.
  • Held a press conference with then Governor Baldacci to officially launch our campaign/organization.
  • The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) Executive Director declares “[PIBCA has] come out of the blocks faster than any other independent business alliance.”
  • Established the logo and those iconic stickers and t-shirts.
  • Established the first concentrated holiday campaign to encourage locally purchased gifts.

2007

  • Membership grows to 175 businesses and nonprofits.
  • Conducted first annual impact survey.
  • Launched the Buy Local Morning poster (a.k.a the “underwear” poster) – you can buy underwear locally!

2008

  • Won the first of multiple Portland Phoenix Best of Awards for Best Local Cause.
  • Celebrated 1st Annual Independent’s Day, highlighting local food producers at the Portland Farmer’s Market.
  • Established annual Indie Biz Awards, a fundraiser and celebration of the many diverse businesses Portland attracts and supports.
  • July of 2008, City of Portland proclaimed “Independent’s Week.”
  • First printed directory was published in July 2008.
  • Introduced semi-annual Downtown Worker Appreciation Day, a collaboration with Portland’s Downtown District; a celebration of those who choose to work every day in downtown Portland and a valuable promotional opportunity for Portland’s local businesses who are seeking to connect with those workers.

2009

  • Joined the national Shift Your Shopping Campaign, encouraging consumers to redirect 10% of their spending at national chains to locally owned merchants and service providers.

2010

  • Published the first print edition of the Portland Buy Local Directory, printing 15,000 copies to distribute to visitors and locals.
  • Won both Portland’s Best Local Cause and Portland’s Best Nonprofit in the Portland Phoenix Reader’s Poll.

2011

  • Launched completely revamped website with interactive member directory searchable by category, location, or name, allowing members to edit and maintain their listings.
  • Introduced the Buy Local Political Survey, inviting responses from candidates for office at the local and state level about issues most important to local entrepreneurs.
  • Distributed and publicized the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) study showing that $100 spent at locally owned businesses contributes an additional $58 to the local economy vs. $33 from national chains.

2012

  • Welcomed nationally renowned economist, attorney, entrepreneur, author, and activist Michael H. Shuman to speak with our members and the public.
  • Introduced wildly popular theme-specific posters highlighting scores of local options to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the end-of-year holidays, or a typical morning at home. Posters continue to be popular to this day.
  • Successfully transitioned the organization to the next generation of leadership after original Board of Directors reached their 6-year term limit.

2013

  • Grew membership to over 500 for the first time ever.
  • Introduced Member Mixers where various businesses host monthly gatherings for learning, networking, and celebrating as a community.

2014

  • Introduced rolling membership renewal, providing members the convenience and ease of online renewals on their schedule. Raised membership rates for the first time in 8 years to allow Portland Buy Local to expand initiatives for our members.
  • Established first stand-alone office at 306 Congress Street.
  • Introduced Brown Bag Lunch series, tackling a variety of topics to educate small business owners.
  • Hosted gubernatorial sessions for Portland Buy Local members to sit down and talk with candidates for Maine governor.
  • Represented Portland Buy Local members on city’s minimum wage committee. Surveyed all members about their thoughts on minimum wage and shared with city leaders and the media.

 

2015 – 2016

Portland Buy Local has really spread our wings since we were born ten years ago. We have interacted with even more of our members this year than ever before (and as the membership is growing even bigger that’s saying a lot!); we have participated in more community events and put on more of our own; and we have worked hard to promote our members and their viewpoints in a number of different spheres.  We also drafted a strategic plan, outlining our vision for the future and how we’re planning to get there.

 

Some of the highlights from our ninth year include:

Community Leadership

From meeting with Portland’s new mayor to joining the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce to writing an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald against the proposed CVS on Forest Avenue, Portland Buy Local has been working hard to raise the visibility and represent the viewpoints of local businesses here in our community. While our membership was split on the minimum wage proposal last fall, we participated in the Mayor’s Minimum Wage Task Force, and surveyed our members and released their viewpoints for discussion.

 

In Support of Thoughtful Development

In response to the citywide outcry over the CVS development proposed on Forest Avenue, District 1 Councilor Belinda Ray requested the Portland Planning IMG_0321Board consider a zone change in this location. On March 22nd, the Planning Board voted to recommend a zoning change to B-2b in this location in just one example of several mechanisms that are being explored by the City to protect the existing buildings as well as guide future development to be mindful of local desire to preserve character and independent businesses, and promote a walkable, dense streetscape on Forest Avenue. The Portland Buy Local Board submitted a letter to the editor in the Portland Press Herald earlier this year stating its position in support of a built environment that allows local, independent businesses to thrive in Portland, and spoke about the issue during an interview on Channel 8.

In an effort to better understand how policy shapes local economies, Portland Buy Local has worked with local business owners, community organizers, and researchers at the Muskie School of Public Policy to identify policies that Portland might consider adopting. These findings, combined with research from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, are the foundation of case studies that are currently being conducted.

 

Membership Development and Outreach: Portland Buy Local now has 450 members, an increase of 26% from last year. It’s exciting to enter our 10th year in such a strong position. Our Program Manager, Jenn Thompson, and our membership committee have put a lot of effort into bringing new businesses into the organization and to connecting with as many of our existing members as possible. We also launched our ‘Buy Local Hero’ card this year, which members use to claim discounts at 43 of our diverse member businesses.

 

Portland Buy Local Organized Events: The 2015 Indie Biz Awards was our most successful community building and fundraising event ever! More than 200 people attended to celebrate local business here in Portland and we had more sponsors supporting the Buy Local cause than ever before. Planning for the 2016 event is already underway; mark your calendars for October 6, 2016 at the Portland House of Music!

We also organized five Brown Bag Lunch Forums, which more than 100 people came together to focus on:

  • Hiring & Firing: Explored the ethical, legal, and interpersonal aspects of hiring and firing employees.
  • How to Wear all the Hats: Being CEO, CFO and CMO All in One – Discussed financial management, marketing, partnerships, legal structure and more.
  • ADA for Businesses: Covered ADA compliance and what businesses can do (and in some cases, are legally required to do) to accommodate customers, employees, and clients with disabilities.
  • Social Media: Using social media to market your local business.

We continued our longstanding Buy Local Member Mixer series, sponsored by Sebago Brewing Company, with events at Peloton Labs, The Sunrise Guide, and New England Distilling.

 

Community Outreach: From the Farmers’ Market to Downtown Worker Appreciation Day to Rosemont Harvest in the Hood, Portland Buy Local has been all around town. President Tony Cox represented Portland Buy Local on a panel at Creative Portland’s The Challenge of Change: Are We Loving Portland to Death event to share our member’s perspectives on rising commercial rents, minimum wage and more, plus we exhibited at the event. More than 200 community members came together to talk about the vision for Portland’s future.

Other places you’ve run into Portland Buy Local this year include:

  • Boat show
  • East End Holiday Stroll
  • Old Port Festival
  • The Portland Farmer’s Market
  • Frontline at CVB

Educational Outreach: Portland Buy Local puts a significant amount of effort over the course of the year to educate the public about the importance of buying locally. This past year, we’ve reached more than 20,000 people with our Portland Buy Local directories and were present in more tourist oriented locations, including the Portland Jetport, Gateway Terminal and area hotels. We’ve also discussed local economic ethics in the Bollard, MPBN, WMPG, Portland Press Herald, Dispatch Magazine, Channel 8, The Forecaster, West End News, Portland Downtown’s Guide, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ve probably also seen “BUY LOCAL” on the Time and Temp building several times throughout the year!

 

Engagement in Numbers:

  • 8,900+ Facebook likes; 4,600+ Twitter followers, 1,500+ Instagram followers
  • 60,000 website page views, 18,000 new users (as defined by Google), improved engagement by increasing time on site by 16% year over year to 2:15

Treasurer’s Report:

In the beginning of this fiscal year, the board approved a budget of $56,677 with the expectation that the organization would increase spending in certain areas to grow membership and use up to $10,277 in savings.

For the fiscal year of July 1, 2015 through June 3, 2016 we had an income of $42,867.89 with $33,046.46 coming from membership dues and $9,829.68 from the Indie Biz awards. During the same period we had $48,000.00 in expenses for a net operating loss of $5,932.82.

In comparison for the fiscal year of July 1, 2014 through June 3, 2015 we had a total income of $41,873.59 and total expenses of 38,869.42 for a surplus of $3,004.

The rise in expenses affected all areas of our operations with Program Manager compensation and the board’s decision to produce locally sourced tote bags being noteable line items.

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