Rooted in Community = Giving Back All Year

Locally owned businesses are rooted in the Upper Valley and donate time and money every month of the year as they support nonprofits, schools, and communities. Keep your dollars where your heart is and support the businesses that support and build our thriving communities. Think Local First this season.
Continuing reading to see just how much Local First members have contributed this year to help make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play.


The Hanover Co-op Food Stores and Servcie Centers – The Pennies for Change program has year-to-date collected almost $160,000 to support community partners. This vital community cooperative also donates tons of produce to Willing Hands each year, and  proudly support organizations like Vital Communities, The Upper Valley Haven, LISTEN, and many more. 

Mascoma Bank – Each year, the Bank and the Mascoma Bank Foundation donate more than $1 million to hundreds of area organizations. From municipalities to local not-for-profit organizations of every stripe, the Bank’s philanthropic efforts have always been geared towards strengthening our communities. The employees of this Certified B Corp participate in making our communities enjoyable, happy, healthy, safe places to live through hundreds of hours of community service,

Great Eastern Radio – Central Vermont Salvation Army, Vital Communities, New Hampshire Food Bank, David’s House and Upper Valley Haven, and Lakes Region Children’s Charities.

King Arthur Flour This Certified B Corp believes in using business as a force for good, and supports many worthy causes with special focus on:

  • Food & Hunger: We support efforts to increase access and connection to real foods.
  • Sustainability: We support efforts that positively influence our natural environment, and promote the conservation of resources and the development of renewable energy sources.

Specifically King Arthur supports Hunger Free Vermont, Vital Communities, Upper Valley Haven, and their Bake For Good: Kids program, Vermont WARMTH (Home fuel heating assistance), Vermont Foodbank, Family Place, David’s House, Helping Hands, Vital Communities

LaValley Building Supply – Northern Stage, David’s House, Upper Valley Haven, Vital Communities

Ledyard National Bank –  Ledyard’s commitment to community support encompasses all that we do as bankers and as citizens responsible for the growth and vitality of the areas we serve. Our civic involvement is built upon a well-defined ongoing charitable giving program that allows us to impact our neighbors in ways that go beyond day-to-day business activities. Through both in-kind and cash donations, we help nonprofit organizations throughout the Upper Valley, Concord and Lake Sunapee Regions succeed.

Ledyard supports Upper Valley Haven, LISTEN Community Services, Good Neighbor Healthcare Center, 19 Days of Norwich, Upper Valley Humane Society, New Hampshire Wonmen’s Foundation, the Friendly Kitchen, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Windsor county Mentors, Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity, CHaD, and many more.

West Lebanon Feed & Supply – Upper Valley Humane Society, VINS, Lacey’s Fund & the VT Police Canine Assoc., Lebanon Varsity Sports, Willing Hands & Share the Harvest, Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society, Watson Upper Valley Dog Park, Shaker Field Dog Park, Local 4-H & GMHA programs, Local Police k-9 training, Local Boy & Girl Scout Troops, Vital Communities

Chippers Sponsorships: David’s House Golf Tournament (annual), Friends of Morrill Homestead Gallery in the Garden (annual), Howe Library Classic Mini Golf Fundraising Event (annual), Lebanon Opera House Coig sponsor, Marion Cross School PTO newsletter sponsor (annual), Montshire Museum Fiddlehead Fling Benefit Raiser (annual), New Hampshire Audubon Society annual meeting sponsor, Northern Stage Once  (annual), Norwich Historical Center House & Garden Tour (annual), Opera North Pirates of Penzance (annual), Our Lady of the Snows Golf Tournament sponsor (annual), Pomfret/Teago Volunteer Fire Department Ox Pull (annual), Prosper Valley School Harvest Supper (annual), Thompson Senior Center Valentine’s Day Auction (annual), Upper Valley Haven Longest Drive Sponsor for Golf Tournament (annual), VINS Forest Canopy Walk sponsor, Woodstock Boys Varsity Hockey Golf Tournament sponsor (annual), Woodstock Community Naked Table Community Building Project, Woodstock Recreation Center Hole sponsor for Golf Tournament (annual), Woodstock Ski Runners Hole sponsor for Golf Tournament (annual), Woodstock’s Spectrum Teen Center John Langhan’s Run (annual), Zack’s Place Turkey Trot (annual).

Plant a Seed Program (no charge for work): Headrest: Tree removal and pruning, Lebanon Youth Baseball Association:, Norman Williams Public Library: pruning and cabling, Woodstock Chamber of Commerce: installation and removal of holiday lights (annual)

Gift Certificates for Auctions: Bridgewater Fire Department Celebration Day, Hanover Rotary Event for Positive Tracks, Lyme Elementary School, Montshire Museum, Norwich Lions Clubs Annual Fair, Special Needs Support Center, Thompson Senior Center Valentine’s Day Gala, Upper Valley Trout Unlimited, Woodstock Rotary Club, Woodstock Ski Runners

Miscellaneous: Friends of Hanover football, Woodstock Union High School football, Woodstock Union High School girls basketball, The Prouty: Three vehicles and drivers on race day, Hartford Project Graduation, Lebanon Project Graduation, Woodstock History Center, Woodstock Food Shelf

Norwich Solar Technology – Blueberry Hill Inn Goshen Gallop, CHaD Hero Corporate Sponsor, Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council, Friends of Hanover Girls’ Soccer, Friends of Hanover Lacrosse (FOHL), Hartford Parks & Rec Glory Days, Hartford Parks and Recreation, Lebanon Middle School /Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering Solar Sprint, Main Street Alliance Vermont, New Hampshire Public Radio, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), Norwich Historical Society, Quechee Balloon Festival, Renewable Energy Vermont (REV), Sharon Academy Playbill, Sustainable Woodstock, The Upper Valley Haven, The Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC), The Zienzele Foundation, Upper Valley Aquatic Center Splash Camp (UVAC), Upper Valley Sierra Club, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network (VECAN), Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP), Vermont Public Radio, Vermont Works for Women, Vital Communities, Walk to End Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Society), Washington County Mental Health Mountain Bike Ride for Children’s Mental Health, Waterbury Local Energy Action Partnership (LEAP) Fair

A.B. Gile – Lebanon Opera House, Northern Stage, Colonial Theater. Staff members serve on the board of Visiting Nurse Hospice VNH, Second Growth, and Cedarcrest of Keene. Staff members volunteer for Lebanon High School Hockey, Special Olympics, and Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl

Jake’s Market & Deli and Jake’s Coffee Co. – West Central Services, Special Olympics, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Toys for Tots, 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, Karp’s Classic, Visiting Nurse & Hospice for NH & VT, Dartmouth Athletics, Lebanon/Hanover/Hartford/Walpole/Springfield/Andover/New London Schools, Enfield Village Assoc., Upper Valley Haven, Lebanon/Hanover/New London/White River/Bellows Falls Rotary, Friends of Veterans NH & VT, Greeny Golf Tournament, DARE, New England Handicapped Sportsman’s Assoc., Norwich Lyons Club, Local Fire and Police Depts., Upper Valley Trails Alliance

Fat Hat Clothing – Finiacial support many charities including Upper Valley Haven, David’s House, Special Olympics, Thetford Academy class trip, Planned Parenthood of New England, and Vital Communities.  Sponsors and helps support the summer jazz festival in Lebanon NH and the White River Film Festival. Helped establish the Not in Our House Fund to support children in homes with domestic violence. Fundraise for breast cancer awareness and research and have created and run the Pink Suitcase Project to help reduce hair loss and help increase self esteem for chemo patients at Norris Cotton Cancer Center of DHMH.  Sell baskets from the Zienzele Foundation where 100% of the sales go to AIDS orphans and their caregivers in some of the poorest villages in rural Zimbabwe.  Support Clara Martin’s 2019 holiday food baskets and we provides free Fat Hats to chemo patients around the country and donate clothing to disaster areas nationally. 

Systems Plus Computers – Supports over 100 local organizations each year.

Chase Brook Software – Howe Library, Hanover Improvement Society, Campion Rink, Storrs Pond Recreation Area, Prouty, Ford Sayre Memorial Ski Club, Hanover Conservation Commission, Hanover Trails Committee, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Hanover Conservancy, Vital Communities, Hartford Community Restorative Justice Center, Hanover High School Field Hockey, Hanover Rotary Club, Hanover Community Gardens

Copeland Furniture Company Store – Montshire Museum, AVA Gallery, Mentoring Project, VINS, Connecticut Valley Fair, Orange East Senior Center, West Newbury Backroom-Neighbors Sharing with Neighbors Watch them grow Children’s center-Bradford and Newbury, 8th Annual Hope for Hannah CF Horseshoe Tournament, Atkinson’s Residence Activity Fund, The Jazzy’s Children Fund, Makala Pierson Benefit

Dan & Whit’s General Store – ​The Norwich Lions Club, Hartford/Norwich Basket Helpers, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Norwich Women’s Club, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Upper Valley Hostel, Upper Valley Reptile Group, COVER Home Repair, Norwich Child Care Center, WISE, AVA Gallery, Bayada Nurses for Veterans, Hartford Historical Society, Special Needs Support Group, Upper Valley Humane Society, Norwich Library, High Horses, The Upper Valley Haven​, White River Junction Rotary, VT Prevent Child Abuse, Alice Peck Day Senior Center, Grass Roots Soccer, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, High Horses, Windsor County Partners, Beaver Meadow & Root Dist. Schoolhouses.

ECFiber – Free upgrades to all schools, public institutions, and libraries in its coverage area.

Energy Emporium – Shaker Bridge Theater, Shaker Museum, Whaleback, The Mascoma Music Performing Arts,  Upper Valley Robotics Team #95, the Grasshoppers, Lebanon Opera House.

Henderson’s Tree Service – Vital Communities

Janson & Colgan Law Office – Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon Rail Trail, Shaker Bridge Theater, City Center Ballet, Second Growth,  NH Charitable Fund, Vital Communities

Molly’s Restaurant & Jesse’s Steak House – The Upper Valley Haven, Upper Valley veterans

Norwich Bookstore – We support the community in many different ways. Some are ongoing like the 1% of all books purchased through our Rewards Program that is donated to a variety of organizations. Others are event based such as our collaborations with The Book Jam to raise funds for the Norwich Public Library and several area school’s reading programs – Pages in the Pub and mutilple Book Buzz gatherings. Now in it’s 20th year, our Book Angel program collects hundred’s of books annually for local children, some of whom receive their first ever “very own” book. In addition, we donate books and gift certificates to auctions and other fund raisers – Good Neighbor, Norwich Women’s Club, Montshire Museum, AVA, and various libraries throughout the year.

Red Kite Candy – Many schools (Thetford Elementary, Thetford Academy, Oxbow, Bradford Elementary, Open Fields) for raffles, silent auctions, project grad donations, TA’s 7th grade DC Fundraising), Thetford Elementary PTO, area libraries (Strafford Library, Latham Library (Thetford), Peabody Library (Thetford), Bradford Library, and the Howe Library in Hanover.

South Royalton Market – Donates about $4,000, including fresh summer produce, to community meals and local organizations in the White River Valley.

Three Tomatoes Trattoria – CHaD, Vital Communities, Montshire Museum, LISTEN, AVA Gallery, Upper Valley Haven,Change the World Kids, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Lebanon Opera House, Opera North, VINS, Lebanon Farmers’ Market, West Central Behavioral Health Lebanon, Northern Stage

Trail Break tap + tacos Vital Communities, Green Mountain Club, Upper Valley Mountain Bike Association

U.K. Architects – Owner is a board member of Plan New Hampshire (a statewide advocate of good planning, design, and responsible developement) and member of the West Wheelock Gateway Committee. Staff member is starting a nonprofit trails advocacy group in Woodstock

Woodstock Insurance –  Annual donations to non-profits is about $10,000 including the food shelf, the Woodstock Sr. Center, Pentangle  Council on the Arts, Project Graduation, Billing Farm & Museum, The Union Arena, The Library and many others. Serves on Boards for Woodstock Rotary and Thompson Senior Center.

And don’t forget our many members participating in the 19 Days of  the Upper Valley in support of The Upper Valley Haven To see all of the participating businesses go to the list provided by Upper Valley Haven, some members involved are:

We also have great non-profit members you can support directly:
Whaleback Mountain
Vital Communities
To see all Local First members, please visit our local business directory.
If you are a Local First member not mentioned here, please tell us how you give back – – We want to know.

Shop Indie Local this Season!

Every dollar spent at a local, independent business returns 2-4 times more to be re-spent in the community than a dollar spent at a non-local business. With consumers reporting that they will spend more than $1,000 for holiday shopping this year, according to a 2018 National Retail Federation survey, a shift to local purchases represents a significant contribution to local jobs, taxes, and community support.

This season make sure your gift giving matches your community values and keep your money here at home by patronizing locally owned services and businesses. Search the Local First directory and shop at stores owned by your friends and neighbors, and enjoy expert service, unique product selection, and know that you are strengthening the Upper Valley by keeping your money circulating in our community.

To encourage shopping locally this season, the Shop Indie Local campaign highlights the value and importance of thinking local first. Support this effort and visit our wonderful and diverse community of local businesses on these special days:


Plaid Friday, November 29

Turn Black Friday on it’s head and take part in Plaid Friday events this year! Our community is stronger when we all engage with our community (plaid is made up of interwoven fabrics!). Visit these businesses during their Plaid Friday events:

Trail Break taps + tacos– Where they wear plaid everyday will be opening for lunch on November 29! They are even  offering 14.05% off guest’s total check from 11:00am to 3:00pm – all they have to do is say ‘it’s about damn time (or darn time, if so inclined)’ and give us a high five! Offer also good on Saturday 11/30, along with the following Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Dan & Whit’s General Store

West Lebanon Feed & Supply

King Arthur Flour Store + Bakery

Norwich Bookstore




Small Business Saturday, November 30

Shop Small and keep your dollars here at home when shopping at these businesses:

Norwich Bookstore

The Country Cobbler




Cider Monday, December 2

Appreciate the personal service and community aspects of shopping locally during this special day aimed at combating Cyber Monday. Visit these locally owned businesses and enjoy cider and community cheer as you make shopping a joyful fun event:

The Co-op Food Stores, all locations

Ledyard National Bank- all locations

Revolution, White River Junction

Norwich Bookstore

Yankee Bookstore, Woodstock

Dan & Whits’ General Store, Norwich


Give the perfect gifts this season: gift certificates to Local First businesses!

Here’s a great option that supports a thriving White River Junction! Visit Revolution to choose your adventure!

Support our community while giving the perfect that your friends and family will  appreciate AND that strengthens our Upper Valley economy. Make a difference this year and Shift Your Shopping. Think Local First!



Exciting TLC Projects to Fund!

Invest in your community and contribute to these exciting campaigns!


Whaleback Base Lodge Energy Efficiency Updates, Enfield

You might not know this, but Whaleback is run by The Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation (UVSSF), a nonprofit entity, with the mission to support and enhance an affordable, healthy, and sustainable snow sports experience in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. UVSSF members first came together in the spring of 2013 on the heels of Whaleback Mountain LLC shuttering operations. Like our fellow residents, we recognize the importance of Whaleback as a community asset.

Whaleback needs to perform repairs on the base lodge and want to invest in energy conservation practices. Our energy efficiency goals will help us become more environmentally friendly, improve comfort within the lodge, and to save money!


Closing the Food Waste Loop with Willow Tree Community Compost, White River Junction

Our mission is to build community while creating compost. Similar to how a willow branch, when stuck in the ground, will grow into a tree, I’m hoping that each Willow Tree Community Compost member will become more strongly rooted in the community and share in a more sustainable lifestyle. The positive environmental impact of diverting waste from the landfill, reducing CO2 emissions and creating a nutrient-rich soil amendment for gardens, will go hand in hand with creating connections in the community. I envision gatherings and events that will bring members together and building business partnerships that benefit all parties. As we grow, we will also be creating local, green jobs.

To expand our operation and be able to serve more of our community, we need to grow! We need buckets, infrastructure, and a trailer to deliver the food waste to Sunrise Farm!


Close the Loop with Compost at Sunrise Farm, White River Junction

Sunrise Farm in White River Junction is creating an on-farm compost system that will take in food waste from the community and transform it into compost that will be incorporated into the farm’s soil to grow more vegetables that further nourish the community. Sunrise is working to build the physical infrastructure needed to compost food scraps from the community to build healthy soil on the farm, divert food waste from the landfill, and strengthen the connections between the farm and community.



Food for Thought: The Growing Peace Project, Topsham

We are a peacemaking, social justice, and youth activism educational nonprofit in Topsham, Vermont. Our youth collaborate in cross school teams to develop and implement action plans that address community issues they care about including food insecurity. We have a free food teaching garden that has been serving our food insecure neighbors for the past nine years.

We’re raising funds to support our Food For Thought free food teaching garden and youth activism programs. Funds raised will allow us to purchase equipment, hire help, add more workshops, and partner with local farms.


Mascoma Friends Feeding Friends Expansion, Canaan

The Friends of Mascoma Foundation is committed to combatting food insecurity in the Mascoma Valley Regional School District (MVRSD) through the Friends Feeding Friends program. The program operates two food pantries in Canaan and in Enfield, plus is the primary source of food and personal hygiene items for the pantry located inside Mascoma Valley Regional High School. Pantry shoppers can come once a week for a three-day supply of food. We have refrigeration, so we focus on fresh produce, meats and dairy products as well as non-perishables. We also supply food for snacks, backpacks, family food boxes as needed and other pantry items to the elementary and middle schools. 

For the past several years a generous private donor has allowed us to use their vehicles, including a van and trailer, for food distribution. Use of these vehicles is essential to our Friends Feeding Friends program and it’s time for us to get our own wheels!


Coming Soon!
These projects are gearing up
to launch TLC campaigns in 2020:


Amplified Arts Toybox Theater, Claremont
Amplified Arts LLC, is a collaborative arts venue in downtown Claremont. Our mission is to provide Sullivan County an inclusive venue that is a space to explore, create and share extraordinary arts.

“Toybox Theatre Project’ will be a communal early arts experience designed for young artists ages 6 month to 3 years and their caregivers. The ‘Toybox Theatre Project’ will provide a creative play venue for young artists and their caregivers, to explore and create through creative play and shared performance art experiences


Kiss the Cow Farm Wholesale Expansion, Barnard
Kiss the Cow Farm is a Barnard, Vermont organic, grass-based dairy selling raw milk and ice cream from our small herd of Jersey cows.  We also raise and sell pastured eggs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

Our mission:
1. Feed our community excellent, local food
2. Preserve and improve the land and soil that sustains us
3. Pass on this knowledge and experience to others who want to learn about this lifestyle.
4. Earn a sustainable wage

We want to bring Kiss the Cow Farm’s ice cream to area co-ops and stores making it easier for customers to purchase our amazing grass-fed ice cream. We are hoping this expansion will lead to adding 1+ local jobs, improving Kiss the Cow’s top and bottom lines, and helping to secure the continuation of our mission.


la Collina Vineyard Winery, Barnard
Vermont is rapidly becoming a well-known wine region. However, most of the 30 vineyards are conventionally farmed, using chemicals in the vineyards and in the cellar. There are a small number of vineyards farming organically and biodynamically, earning a world-wide reputation for serious, sustainable farming techniques in cold climates and we are one of them!

Our vision: A community winery for creating raw, organic Vermont wine. We have planted two biodynamic vineyards in Barnard and now we need a winery!

Welcome Norwich Solar Technologies!

We are proud to welcome Norwich Solar Technologies as a Local First Promoter Sponsor!  The White River Junction-based renewable energy company provides end-to-end solar solutions to businesses in Vermont, New Hampshire, and throughout New England. Norwich Solar Technologies (NST) supports local job creation, increased energy independence, and reduced pollution while following socially responsible business practices and is commitment to our community.

One example of NST’s commitment to community is their Community Impact Fund. The fund allows local investors to own community solar projects that expand participation to low-income residents, nonprofits, and start-up businesses while allowing investors to use their tax liability to make positive economic and environmental returns. The fund links mission-minded investors with high-impact projects that make the Upper Valley stronger.

The type of projects that the Community Impact Fund targets are projects that can generate broad benefits to the community such as economic development and greenhouse gas reduction. The fund has a 2019 target to finance $2.5M of non-traditional ventures, primarily focused on solar projects that can significantly lower electric bills of these underserved communities. While the fund is primarily focused on solar projects in 2019, the longer-term goal is addressing the “energy burden” transportation and housing put on low-income individuals and our environment. Low-income households suffer a disproportionate energy burden, defined as the percentage of gross household income spent on energy costs.

Since launching in December 2018, the fund has completed three projects serving a low-income community, an environmental nonprofit, and a human services nonprofit. Collectively, these initial projects will save their beneficiaries an estimated $600,000 over their lifetime and eliminate 950 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, two more projects are underway to serve additional low-income households and a local new business startup.

Read more about NST Community Impact Fund projects:
NST is also working with local schools, including projects with the Hartford Schools, Thetford Elementary School, Bradford Elementary School, Newbury Elementary School, Oxbow High School and River Bend Tech Center, the Mountain School, Plainfield Elementary School, Dublin School, KUA, and Cardigan Mountain. Norwich Solar provides more than solar installations at schools, they engage with the faculty and students to enrich STEM curriculum. They have built and provided hands-on interactive displays, taught classes, provided support to teachers with curricula materials, and given student assembly talks. Data from solar PV arrays can be readily integrated into the educational curriculum, and are easily coordinated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics initiatives.
NST is a member of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and proudly supports the following nonprofits with time and sponsorships: CHAD (Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth), Alzheimer Society, Norwich Historical Society, Vermont Public Radio, New Hampshire Public Radio, Vital Communities, and Upper Valley Aquatic Center.
Norwich Solar Technologies was founded in 2011 with a vision of developing and commercializing leading-edge innovations in Clean Technology to advance the integration and deployment of affordable Solar Power to help New England companies improve their Triple Bottom Line (financial, social and environmental goals). The reason is clear: today’s business leaders know that investing in clean energy creates good jobs, increases competitiveness, and is better for the environment. Norwich Solar Technologies provides companies with turnkey services as a trusted, long-term clean energy partner giving commercial and industrial customers Development, Design, Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Power Purchase Agreements, Structured Financial Solutions, and Long-Term Operations and Maintenance services to help them meet their goals. Clients include schools, nonprofits, municipalities, commercial & industrial enterprises, farms, small businesses, and residential clients. Learn more about Norwich Solar Technologies here.

Have an Idea That Could Use a Lift?

Local Businesses, Farmers,Entrepreneurs, Nonprofits, Community Initiatives:

Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen?

Want to grow your organization, our community, and the local economy, but don’t have access to capital?

The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley is a rewards-based local crowdfunding platform that helps communities invest in local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits,
and initiatives that are mission-driven social enterprises. If your organization contributes to the community and could use a lift, apply to be part of the Fall 2019 cohort of campaigns.
Submit a proposal for 2019 crowdfunding campaigns if you:
  • Have a project with a budget under $10,000 .
  • Have a simple, achievable project that will generate excitement in your community.
    (your proposal can be part of a bigger project, but it should have stand-alone value.)
  • Have a project that will create an economic and/or social benefit to your business and the community
  • Are a business or organization with the principle of doing something good for people or the planet
  • Are able to invest time to build a successful fundraising campaign in September and October 2019

Sample project ideas: Farm infrastructure, renewable energy installation, community garden or art project, vehicle to expand nonprofit service, capital to launch a new rural enterprise, food business equipment

Submit your project proposal by September 4

TLC Upper Valley will select up to six projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Selected proposals will launch their campaigns in November, with support and guidance from TLC Upper Valley Advisors.
Campaign guidelines here.

TLC details:
You (project/campaign creator) will need to:

  • Form a Campaign Team to actively promote your fundraising project
  • Work closely with the TLC team to leverage training, marketing, and community outreach tools
  • Adhere to the “three keys of success” promoted by The Local Crowd platform:  YOU share with your personal network. YOU make it happen.

You will receive:

  • Support from the TLC team to run a successful funding campaign
  • Access to business development support from project partners including SCORE, Space on Main, SBDC, SBA, GMEDC
  • Marketing and outreach support to spread the word about your project
  • Free Crowdfunding Readiness Assessment ($85 value)
  • Funds raised via the crowdfunding campaign for the designated project (less the 5% platform fee)
  • Opportunity to reduce platform fees if you meet campaign milestones

Community. Connection. Capital.

TLC Upper Valley is one of five sites across the country participating in a National Science Foundation research project to pilot The Local Crowd. The project is measuring community knowledge and support for social enterprises, also known as the 4th sector.
Be part of the research and share your knowledge with this short survey.

Fat Hat Clothing-Keeping it Local for 40 years

Forty years ago Joan Ecker started Fat Hat Clothing Company with free fabric remnants and a treadle sewing machine. Today F.H. Clothing Company is a nationally known family business that designs, produces and sells stylish, comfortable clothing at two retail stores in the UV , craft shows throughout the Northeast and at over 200 boutiques throughout the country.  Starting an independent clothing company required creativity, determination and an entrepreneurial spirit. Keeping it operating in today’s retail and global trade environment is challenging and stressful. When all is going smoothly Joan spends her days drawing new designs for future collections but most days are spent trouble-shooting, staying relevant, being competitive, managing a profitable bottom line and negotiating and renegotiating the ever-changing landscape of a dwindling supply chain in the world of small business.

On a recent visit to the “headquarters” of F.H. Clothing Co. in Quechee, I toured the 270 year old barn which includes a retail store, sewing shop, inventory and shipping departments. Joan’s daughters run the  business with Joan where kids and dogs are often found running around. When I arrived Joan was busily fixing a window display where a mannequin riding a bike collapsed and took everything with it when playing dogs flew through the store.

I had a chance to talk with Joan about being an entrepreneur and small business owner in the Upper Valley. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Fat Hat as Social Enterprise:

Over the years, the Fat Hat corner in Quechee has acted like a business incubator for upstart businesses since Joan intentionally kept rents low in order to support entrepreneurs as they get their businesses off the ground because she knows how difficult it is to find and access the critical resources when starting out.

Joan is a mentor in Job Shadow project of Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership. Through this project middle school students spend a day learning about the business.  They choose fabric, pick a design, resize it for themselves, cut, sew and model their creations.  Along the way they learn why it costs what it costs to make clothing and that the cost of labor is mainly what drives the price of finished goods.

Fat Hat continually tries to work with socially responsible manufacturers based in the US.  As the industry shifted to off-shore production, a key mission for the business was to keep their clothing completely produced in America. In the early years Joan brought a few other boutique designers to her “cut and sew” guy in NYC to help him establish his small shop manufacturing business that works hard to provide a healthy working condition, in pay and environment for his employees.

Throughout the year F.H Clothing donates dozens of fat hats to cancer patients going through chemotherapy.

Businesses Challenges:

Labor- As most UV businesses are acutely aware, the labor pool is small. There is no training for seamstresses and the population of these workers is aging out. Fat Hat desperately needs at least one person with the skills and interest in clothing construction and production to work in the Quechee building.

A living wage – No one can live well even on $15 an hour especially with the continual increases in the cost of living. The company pays all employees above this minimum wage but the higher that goes the harder it is to hold onto the business’s defined market and still make a profit.  (The students who were mentored even know this).  The minimum wage is not enough to support most people. At some point the cost of living needs to go down to help balance this.

Stable suppliers and costs- It’s a crazy world out there with fabric, shipping, production and tariffs.  There are no guarantees about final fabric cost if fabric does happen to come from over seas.  There’s no telling how long a boat shipment might be held out at sea waiting for a clear bill of health, there’s the worry that the knitting and weaving companies will close their doors, there’s no sense of stability that the NY building where goods are cut and sewn is not going to be sold in the next month or two for a new boutique hotel resulting in the production house having to find a new home (that’s happened twice in the last three years, and it upheaves everything).

The good news:
The business is thriving, the employees are terrific and the customers love the clothing!


Read about the history of this local business on their website.


“you’ve GOT to be putting us on!”

Quechee, Vermont 05059
(802) 296-6646

White River Junction, VT 05001
(802) 698-3329


Supporting Social Enterprises

Exciting news! Local First is one of five sites across the country participating in a National Science Foundation research project to pilot The Local Crowd, a community crowd funding platform to support social enterprises. Crowdfunding is the process in which an entrepreneur, business or organization asks a large number of people (usually through the Internet) to contribute small amounts of money to support a new business or project. The Local Crowd® works with rural communities to create local crowdfunding ecosystems that support the growth and sustainability of local businesses and organizations. The project will assess the effectiveness of the community crowdfunding program as a tool for community building and economic development while providing access to capital for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

We are fortunate to live in a community that is replete with social enterprises that are mission driven organizations that use business principles to make the world a better place. Social enterprises are part of an emerging 4th sector. The three economic sectors of government, nonprofits and businesses make up our traditional economy.  A new 4th sector combines the mission driven approach of nonprofits with the market driven approach of business. These entrepreneurial ventures are creating financially viable enterprises that prioritize social mission over profit—pioneering new ways to get the work done

Local First will be supporting these businesses by hosting six funding campaigns through The Local Crowd Upper Valley that will launch in the fall. Stay tuned for details!



West Lebanon Feed & Supply is Committed to Community

A strong work ethic, a passion for helping others, and a sincere love of animals have been at the core of Curt and Sharon Jacques’ life and their business. West Lebanon Feed & Supply’s success is the result of the couple’s skills and passions-a unique mix of technical knowledge, drive, and heartfelt compassion. With their ownership, West the Lebanon business has grown into a remarkable destination retail location and valued home to some 35 employees.

The couple is being honored at Vital Communities’ Heroes & Leaders Celebration May 30 for their many years of working to enhance the vitality of the Upper Valley. Their commitment to community and local economy can be seen in their sponsorship and active participation in Local First and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce among other efforts and their generous support of are organizations and nonprofits.

Curt and Sharon purchased West Lebanon Feed & Supply in 1995. In 2007, they opened an 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that celebrates the human-animal bond. The business has since developed into a nationally and internationally top-awarded store in its industry. Now, Curt and Sharon’s vision of “Your Life, Your Style, Your Store” takes new shape through their venture GooberPick, as they continue to find innovative ways to serve the people and animals in their lives.

West Lebanon Feed & Supply owner develops delivery platform for small businesses

In a bid to help small retailers to meet the demand for convenience in the smartphone era, the owner of West Lebanon Feed & Supply is launching Goober Pick, a package delivery system that will bring purchases made online from area retailers to a network of storage lockers at high-traffic spots in Upper Valley towns. Read the rest of this Valley News article here.


Keeping Your Dollars Multiplying in the UV!

When you spend money at locally owned businesses, it is pretty easy to understand that those dollars directly impact the local economy as they keep local businesses in business. The local multiplier effect is less obvious, but key to keeping our economy strong.

The multiplier effect is the amount of local economic activity that is triggered by the purchase of any one item. Community economics tells us that the more a dollar circulates in a defined region, and the faster it circulates, the more income, wealth and jobs it creates.

Keeping dollars local is an act of reinvestment in your community. Buying local products and services and banking locally keeps money circulating closer to where you spend it. This creates a ripple effect as those businesses and their employees in turn spend your money locally. Corporate chains send most of your money out of town. E-commerce sends dollars directly out of our community weakening our Upper Valley economy. Studies have determined that three times more money stays in the Upper Valley when you Think Local First!

Follow the money and read about how many times your $20 circulates around the Upper Valley creating economic activity by clicking on the image below.


The Benefit of B Corps

Certified Benefit Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good and three Local First members are proud B Corps –  King Arthur Flour, Mascoma Bank, and Gardener’s Supply.

King Arthur Flour- B Corp & ESOP
King Arthur Flour is America’s oldest flour company and a founding member of B Corporations. King Arthur Flour’s success can be attributed to the fact that the company is one hundred percent employee-owned  which was accomplished through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) in 1996. Employee ownership ensures that King Arthur Flour is committed to producing the best bag of flour available and keeps the company accountable for its practices everyday.

 “King Arthur Flour’s corporate culture has always been about long-term value and never about the next quarter’s profits” Suzanne McDowell, King Arthur Flour co-CEO

King Arthur Flour’s core values of quality, community, employee ownership, passion, and stewardship are displayed in its practices of community education and service, and environmental stewardship. Founded in 1790,  the company has more than 300 employees today and over $100 million in revenue. In 2012, King Arthur Flour took additional steps to protect its mission and legacy: the employee-owners voted to become a Vermont benefit corporation, a form of legal incorporation in state law, which more deeply embeds the same principles as the nonprofit certification process of being a B Corp. As a Vermont benefit corporation, grounded in employee ownership, the company will be able to continue to carry out its mission — “to inspire connections and community by spreading the joy of baking” — and its values, caring for its people and the planet, for many years to come.

Certified B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. They are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

The B Economy is built by everyone who works for, buys from, invests in, learns or teaches about, or supports businesses striving to create a shared and durable prosperity for all. Vote with your dollars everyday and spend and invest in the businesses that match your values.


Becoming a B Corp
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) is hosting a workshop series this spring for businesses interested in learning more about becoming a B Corp. VBSR’s Measure What Matters workshop series is your opportunity to learn from some of the best companies in New England, see how you measure up against industry leaders, and find new ways to improve your business operations. Workshop attendees will leave with ready-to-use tools for change and an expanded network of professionals who believe in business as a power for good! Modeled after the B-Corp Impact Assessment, this new series will help members to better support their communities, reduce the impact of their operations on the environment and to create the best workplace for their employees. Workshops are available for VBSR and NHBSR members only. Registration is transferable within your organization.

Workshop Schedule:


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