Published in the Newport Times
Locally owned businesses are the lifeblood of a community, paying local salaries, taxes, and material costs, and supplying the goods and services every community needs. That’s why support for local businesses is one of the pillars of the work of Vital Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to making the Upper Valley more vibrant, resilient, and equitable. Vital Communities brings businesses together to problem solve and offers them technical support, and encourages residents to spend their dollars locally.
Vital Communities also helps new local enterprises start or expand through its local crowdfunding platform, The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley, which it launched in 2019. Crowdfunding is the practice of sourcing small contributions from a large number of people to provide funding for a particular venture. TLC Upper Valley directs the power of crowdfunding specifically at projects that will make the community better and fairer for all.
Unlike commercial crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, TLC Upper Valley nurtures the campaigns it agrees to undertake, giving the campaign teams the tips and resources they need to design and execute a successful fundraising campaign.
An example is Aurora Bakery in Newport. Only four years old, Aurora is already a treasured community asset. Located on Main Street in Newport, NH, and part of the nonprofit Road To Independence, Aurora offers teens and adults with differing abilities the chance to learn critical life and work skills while making and selling mouth-watering treats. This April, TLC Upper Valley agreed to partner with Aurora on an expansion project.
“Within the bakery, we run a program for individuals with differing abilities,” said Elaine Frank, Road To Independence Board President. “These individuals are taught everything from safe food handling to how to properly mix a batter or dough to customer service and social skills. Everything is baked from scratch in-house by our students, volunteers, and staff.”
The TLC Upper Valley campaign will allow Aurora staff to add more seating for customers, expand their menu to include savory items such as sandwiches, soups, and salads, and provide more varied work experiences for their participants. Support Aurora Bakery’s campaign today!
Another example was last summer’s TLC Upper Valley campaign for the Sunapee Region Arts Atlas. The atlas was the core project of the Arts & Business Alliance, a coalition of area arts organizations, businesses, and community leaders (including Newport’s Library Arts Center) focused on creating arts and business partnerships to boost the local economy. Their campaign raised over $32,000 to create a hand-illustrated cultural asset map and a powerful, complementary interactive website that is helping the alliance promote a sense of place and spur community and economic development through the powerful lens of the arts.
“It is no secret that the Sunapee Region is absolutely teeming with incredible arts and cultural assets,” said Fran Huot, Library Arts Center Marketing Coordinator. “The reality is that many of these cultural institutions are under-represented, under-resourced, and working independently, as islands of greatness, but their efforts are often overshadowed by the cultural pillars in the regions just to our north and south. The variety of galleries, museums, music venues, theaters, libraries, and historical institutions we have here are phenomenal. They just need to be amplified.”
Since TLC Upper Valley launched, 13 crowdfunding campaigns have collectively raised over $330,000 from 2,200 supporters. Join the crowd by supporting one of TLC Upper Valley’s campaigns — and help grow healthier and more prosperous communities.