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Local First Alliance Lunch & Learn Series

Local First Alliance Member Professional Development & Networking Opportunity

Lunch & Learn Series – 
Bring or buy a lunch and learn from LFA members this summer. Free for members, $10 non-members.

8/22- Web Marketing for Small Businesses, Noon-1:00pm
King Arthur Flour conference room, Norwich
Good marketing needs to convey who you are, attract and inform your audience, and be professional. Doug Lufkin, of Lufkin Graphic Designs and an LFA member, will share his insights and experience from more than 25 years in the business. Register here.

9/13- Driving Traffic to Your Website,
The Co-op Food Stores Culinary Learning Center, Lebanon
Learn how radio can be an important partner in your web marketing efforts from Marc Berman, of Great Eastern Radio. Register here.

Marc Berman is retired from a thirty-year career in commercial radio station ownership as senior executive and partner in broadcast companies, both publicly and privately held.

He is Chairman Emeritus of the New England Public Radio Foundation, licensee of western New England’s regional National Public Radio (NPR) stations.

He is adjunct professor at UMass/Amherst where he teaches The Business of Media.

An investor in and consultant to companies involved in commercial and non-profit broadcasting and affiliated industries, he is Senior Advisor to Great Eastern Radio and Nantucket NPR.


Past events:

7/25- $$Energy$$ Savings for Small Businesses, Noon-1:00pm
Vital Communities conference room, White River Junction
Hear from Sarah Brock, Vital Communities Energy Program Manager about the resources (rebates, incentives, etc) available to small businesses on both sides of the river.


Questions? Email Nancy@VitalCommunities.org or call 802.291.9100 x106

Member Spotlight – Jake’s Market & Deli and Jake’s Coffee Company

Member Spotlight- Jake’s Market & Deli and Jake’s Coffee Company

As you travel around the Upper Valley it is likely that you have filled your belly or fueled your vehicle at one of the many Jake’s locations around the region. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the first Jake’s Market & Deli in Lebanon and the business has grown to include eight stores on both sides of the river including Georges Mills, Walpole, and Springfield, Vermont. In addition to convenience stores, the business has grown to include Jake’s Coffee Company, Jake’s Quechee Market & Café, and a catering menu for corporate and social events.

jakes-logo-cropped      jcc-logo

Local First Alliance members strengthen our communities in multiple ways including creating jobs, purchasing supplies and services from other local businesses, and supporting local charities.  Jake’s is a family run business that strongly believes in giving back by supporting dozens of Upper Valley organizations including West Central Services, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Montshire Museum, Kilton Library, Lebanon Opera House, Good Neighbor Health Clinic, David’s House, WISE, AVA Gallery, Skip’s Run, New London Hospital, SPARK Community Center, Zac’s Place, Lebanon CCBA, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, area schools, and many more.

On average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses stays in our community, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at national chain stores. So, when you are looking for a convenience store, a grab-and-go meal, a quick made-to-order sandwich, or a great cup of coffee, look for the Local First Alliance logo and stop at a Jake’s Deli & Market & Deli and  Jake’s Coffee Company.



Welcome Fall with Local First Members

It’s autumn in the Upper Valley once again, and Local First Alliance members King Arthur Flour and the Co-op Food Stores make it easy to welcome the season in good taste.

kingarthurflour_biggerOn Saturday, September 17, King Arthur Flour hosts its 4th Annual Fall Festival from 10 am to 4 pm in Norwich. Kick off the baking season with demonstrations and interactive activities for kids and adults, live entertainment, raffles, and of course plenty of delicious local eats to sample and buy.

Then on Thursday, September 29, the Co-op Food Stores are partnering with Vital CoopLogoFS
Communities to offer a butchering demonstration from professional butcher Jeff Withington to help consumers learn to make the most of their local meats. The demo, held at the Co-op Culinary Learning Center in Lebanon, also features delicious local food and beverage samples. Reserve your tickets today!

A common theme among Local First Alliance members is their commitment to giving back to the Upper Valley community. King Arthur Flour and the Co-op Food Stores have been leading companies in these efforts for years. Recent examples of their generosity include King Arthur Flour’s August Garden Table supper, which raised nearly $4,000 for Hunger Free Vermont, and the Co-op’s new Pennies for Change program, which raises thousands of dollars every month for local nonprofit organizations.

Whether you’re shopping, cooking, or just looking for something fun to do, remember to think Local First!



Heat Local First: Lyme Green Heat

When Lyme native Morton Bailey started his business, Lyme Green Heat—a new member of Local First Alliance this year—he was just a guy in a truck delivering bagged wood heating pellets to residential customers around the Upper Valley heating their homes with pellet stoves.

Today the thirty-something has grown the business to become the only bulk distributor of wood pellets in New Hampshire, serving commercial and residential customers with wood pellet boilers—central heating—throughout New Hampshire, Vermont, and even into Massachusetts.

“Being a local family I guess I never planned to go too far anyways, and being here in the Upper Valley and in New England in general, heating is a big part of our lives,” Morton explained when asked about why he started this local business. “I’ve always been the outdoor type, and I’ve always valued and been part of the wood economy, and it just made sense to start to look at this fuel as a way to heat people’s homes with a locally based product.”

The shift to bulk pellet delivery for central heating systems has been a big change over the last few years, Morton said, and he couldn’t be more excited to bring what he sees as an easy, renewable, local fuel source to the region.

“This is wood heat for everybody,” he said. “It’s just as easy as burning oil or propane but it’s locally produced and grown in your backyard. You’re literally eliminating that fossil fuel use, and that’s important as we move forward. In the big energy picture of New England, home heating is our biggest energy consumer. Fortunately for us we have this incredible resource, which is our forests, and when they’re properly managed and maintained we’re able to harvest that wood, turn it into an energy source, and in turn it’s going to regrow and be there for future generations.”

Thanks to Morton, Lyme boasts the highest rate per capita of residential wood pellet boilers in the state. And it’s not just because of his enthusiasm and his connections in town; it’s also because of his work to help establish and expand the New Hampshire Wood-Pellet Central-Heating Rebate Program, which now offers residents rebates of 40% of installed cost up to $10,000 for pellet boilers.

When Morton started bulk delivery seven years ago he sold 100 tons of fuel; last year he delivered nearly 5,000 tons. The wood pellet fuel market is growing, but it’s not easy.

“It’s a tough market going up against oil and gas,” he said. “As a company we see so much value in this whole local movement. The local food movement has had such an impact, and we want to be on the same level.”

In addition to using local products and serving local customers, Lyme Green Heat supports the local community and strives to do more. Last Arbor Day they provided saplings for the students at the Lyme School – a Lyme Green Heat customer – to plant and to learn more about how they heat their school. Lyme Green Heat also sponsored Vital Communities’ Upper Valley Energy Committee Roundtable in April.

“We’re just getting started on this end of things but I see it as a nice way for us to continue to community-build with our little enterprise,” Morton said.

Great Eastern Radio

Great Eastern Radio’s Community Cares Project

Local First Alliance member Great Eastern Radio, based in West Lebanon, owns 16 stations spanning Central Vermont, New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, and the Upper Valley. Whether you’re looking for oldies, talk radio, or the best hits of today, Great Eastern has it all.

What it also has is a vested interest in our community. Great Eastern has dedicated countless free and discounted hours to promoting our region’s charities and nonprofits big and small. This year they will be hosting a season-long Community Cares project, highlighting many nonprofits in the Connecticut River Valley in December. Listen and learn on Q 106, KIXX 100.5, Kool 93.9/96.3, GXL 92.3 and The River 106.7.


Inspiring Positive Community: Village Green Publishing

Guest post by Jen MacMillen, Publisher

The main question we must continue to ask ourselves is, “Why are we here doing what we do?”

When we boil it down to a common essence, one could argue that it’s to engage in positive community. Vital Communities clearly plays a significant role in building positive community by unifying the Upper Valley and finding the common core issues that, if addressed and improved upon, will benefit the greater good. Village Green Publishing strives to provide a similar service by using the printed page.

For the most part, everyone belongs to at least one community and oftentimes is a member of many sub-communities. We take our kids to school; we volunteer at the library; we shop at our local merchants. Each of these interactions creates opportunities for community building, and so it goes: what goes around comes around. We all live, work, play, raise families, and help our neighbors, often in a subconscious need to foster positive community. It’s built into our genes. To be social is a survival mechanism. In these modern times, we have the luxury of engaging in positive community for the sheer fact that it feels good to be a good citizen!

Village Green Publishing provides a vehicle for local stories to inspire positive community. The Quechee Times, the Norwich Times, and the Lebanon Times are print publications that mail directly to every address in their respective communities—free of charge. The philosophy behind this method of distribution is that in order to truly serve a community and inspire readers to engage in positive, community-building efforts, our publications must reach every single household—not just those who can or wish to pay for it.

And, for the business members of our communities, these papers serve as a mutually beneficial medium of exchange. Our local merchants and business owners have well-read vehicles in which to share their messages with community members, and, with the money they pay for their space, we are able to produce a top-quality publication and get it in the hands of those loyal community members.

Again, what goes around, comes around.

As a Local First Alliance member and a strong believer in supporting the local economy, Village Green Publishing is doing its part to keep the upward spiral of positive momentum going by creating publications which feature only the “good people, good places, and good things happening” in each of the communities served. By focusing on the positive rather than the sensationalist, doom-and-gloom messages of mainstream media, readers are able to feel good about where they live and with whom they do business, since most likely it’s with a neighbor they just read about in the last edition!

Vital Communities’ name alone points to the importance of creating a strong, healthy, positive community for the well-being of its entire citizen body. Village Green Publishing has the privilege of telling the stories of how these community efforts take shape.


King Arthur Flour Gives Back With Third Annual Bakers’ Harvest Festival

Local First Alliance not only loves to promote shopping locally, but we jump at the chance to showcase members who give back to the community. When you support our locally owned and operated businesses, you ensure your hard-earned money is reinvested into the region we call home.

On Saturday, September 12, from 10 am–4 pm, Local First Alliance member King Arthur Flour invites the public to attend the third annual Bakers’ Harvest Festival at the company’s flagship headquarters in Norwich, Vermont. Attendees will celebrate the start of the baking season by enjoying live entertainment, raffles, samples from food vendors, and hands-on baking education activities for adults and kids. Attendance is free.

Leading up to the public festival is a conference and tasting supper that will connect fellow foodies and baking enthusiasts. The conference, which requires pre-registration, takes place September 10 & 11 and features hands-on classes and seminars from renowned pastry, pie, and bread bakers including James MacGuire, Gesine Bullock-Prado, Joanne Chang, and King Arthur Flour’s own Bakery Director Jeffrey Hamelman. There will also be a chance to visit local bakeries and get behind-the-scenes tours.

The reservations-only tasting supper on Friday, September 11, from 5:30–7:30 pm allows attendees to taste the area’s finest food and spirits, with more than 15 restaurants and farms participating.  King Arthur Flour will match all proceeds from the supper, benefiting Hunger Free Vermont.

King Arthur Flour is situated only five minutes away from Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Dartmouth College campus. Located off exit 13 on I-91, Norwich is easily accessible from major cities – a two hour drive from Boston, Mass., or 90 minutes from Burlington, Vermont. There is ample free parking.

More information, including registering for the conference, visit kingarthurflour.com/bakers-harvest.


Three Tomatoes

Give Back By Dining Out & Save The Date For A Wine Tasting

What’s the best part of Local First Alliance? Our members, of course!

We are constantly promoting our members because they are continually giving back to our community. On average, 46 cents on the dollar stays local when spent locally, compared to 15 cents. An example of how this reinvestment can work is Three Tomatoes Trattoria’s Sustainable Community Dinners. These dinners happen once a month and support a different nonprofit organization each time.

“At Three Tomatoes Trattoria, we take great pride in supporting the growth of our strong, diverse, and vibrant local communities. We know the power of partnerships and the importance of working together. One night each month, the restaurant hosts a nonprofit organization and donates a dollar for every entree ordered to the cause. During these Sustainable Community Dinners, we help raise awareness and build support for the organizations and people that work to provide the services and opportunities that make our area a vital and wonderful place to live. Each of the 12 organizations that we have chosen for our 2014-15 Sustainable Communities program is integral to the sustainability of our communities and a leader for the health and viability of our region,” according to Robert Meyers and Jim Reiman, Local First Alliance members and owners of Three Tomatoes Trattoria.

Dine at Three Tomatoes in Lebanon, New Hampshire, between 5 and 9 pm on Wednesday, August 5, to support Vital Communities.

“Our members are what make our alliance strong,” said Local First Alliance Manager Emily Gardner. “Whether it’s West Lebanon Feed & Supply giving back to the Upper Valley Humane Society, or Christian Roy’s Hair Salon holding a food drive for the Upper Valley Haven, you know your money is being well spent at these local businesses. Local First also represents charities that have their own storefronts to benefit the community, like the LISTEN and ReCover stores.”

Would you like to meet hear more about Local First Alliance or network with your fellow members? Our first annual Member Mixer is on September 3 from 5 to 7 pm. Enjoy wine and appetizers at the Co-op Culinary Learning Center at the Centerra Marketplace in Lebanon. Please RSVP, and don’t forget to bring a friend! This event is open to any members or those interested in learning more about Local First Alliance.

Mud Season in New England

There are two things New Englanders can count on – mud season and taxes. The bright side of mud season is that it means we’ve made it through yet another winter. The good news about your taxes is that Local First Alliance has a great local business member to help with that.

John Ring, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), has lived in the Upper Valley for more than 40 years and is proud to be an 11th-generation Northern New Englander and a Local First Alliance member. Born and raised in Claremont, John now works out of his home in Norwich and has been a CPA since 1971. He knows how hard it is to make it through a winter here and that the last thing you need is trouble with your taxes. As a CPA who calls the Upper Valley home, he is an advocate of shopping and banking locally as much as possible.

Just in case you are nervous about the perils of mud season and driving on those back roads, Local First has you covered there, too.

A.B. Gile, Inc. Insurance, based in West Lebanon, combines a deep sense of community with an understanding of local insurance needs. Founded in 1871, they offer auto, home, renters, and commercial insurance for private and business clients. If you’ve become distracted with thoughts of summer and warmer days, they also offer boat insurance.

What happens when you do business with a great Local First member like A.B. Gile? They reinvest their profits in our community. This local business alone contributes to more than 75 nonprofits throughout the Upper Valley region.

“For almost 140 years, A.B. Gile has been guided by three rules: to be fair and honest, interested in our clients and their problems, and to treat our clients’ needs as if they were our own,” said Alan Harkabus, small business claims manager for A.B.Gile. “A.B. Gile’s community support has included supporting youth sports, the arts, Special Olympics, law enforcement, and initiatives like Vital Communities. It is our responsibility to give back to the community we live in.”

For more dedicated Local First members who can meet your shopping and service needs, visit our online directory.

Thank you for supporting our Upper Valley economy. Wishing you warm thoughts for a beautiful spring.

Update Your Branding, Style and Technology

Now that we’re through the holidays, it’s time to turn to local service providers to help us fulfill some of those holiday resolutions. Maybe your plan for 2015 is to be more tech savvy, or to get that start-up business off the ground. Local First Alliance members can help update your branding, style, and technology while supporting our local economy.

For more than 25 years, Systems Plus Computers in Lebanon, New Hampshire, has been the Upper Valley’s source for computer products and services. Did you get some holiday gadgets you aren’t quite sure how to use? Not to worry. Systems Plus has a staff of trained IT professionals that will gladly guide you through new computer setup, upgrades, data migration, and conversions. And if you didn’t get the gadget you were hoping for, Systems Plus has it.

As a Local First Alliance member, Systems Plus has also made a commitment to reinvest your hard-earned money into the community by donating to more than 100 local organizations every year! Owner and Local First Steering Committee member Jake Blum also works to assist charities and nonprofits with computer and IT requirements through contributions, reduced pricing, and technical support.

Another Local First member who is paying it forward is Erika Gavin, owner of Erika Gavin Designs. Her long list of skills includes branding, art direction, publication design, illustration, photo editing, and corporate marketing. Like Jake, Erika works to give back to the community using her unique set of skills and is responsible for the creation of our beautiful Local First Alliance logo. Erika knows how to make your business marketing dollars count when it comes to the appearance of your business and brand. As a member of the community, she also has a unique understanding of our Upper Valley market and the design needs of a small, local business.

Be sure to search our online directory for other Local First Alliance members who can help you check off the New Year to-do list and keep our community strong, sustainable, and vibrant.

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