In mid-May, Local First hosted the 2012 Business Alliance for Local Living Economies business conference, which brought more than 700 people interested in local, sustainable businesses together for a sharing of best practices.
“The local economy movement will continue to grow in 2013. In 2012, we saw very positive localist trends gain steam in West Michigan. We expect these signs to grow stronger as Michigan continues to rebuild its economy and individuals strive to connect to their community. Examples of these trends are many.
“There’s been a significant shift toward sourcing locally grown food. Not only are established restaurants drastically increasing the amount of product they source locally, but new restaurants focused primarily on serving farm-to-table cuisine are popping up all over the place. More than ever, people are asking, ‘Was this food made in Michigan?’ We expect the local food movement to intensify in both the restaurant and retail sectors.
“New businesses are opening and staying in business. In 2012, 16 new retail stores opened in downtown Grand Rapids. Surrounding towns and neighborhoods are also seeing growth as communities are investing more heavily in creating vibrant business districts. In addition, we continue to see revenue shifting from national businesses toward locally-owned businesses. We predict that in 2013, the resurgence of main street retail will continue to flourish throughout West Michigan.
“2013 will also be a great year for sustainability. In 2012, Grand Rapids set records for waste reduction and recycling increases. Business owners in every sector are shifting to more sustainable practices and localizing their supply chains. In 2013, we predict that anyone who is not working for higher marks in sustainability will be left behind.”