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.

Village Green Publishing, Fat Hat and the 19 Days

Local First Alliance is thrilled to help grow “The 19 Days” local holiday shopping and giving event beyond the boundaries of Norwich. December 1 through 19, Local First Alliance members and many local businesses will give a portion of their sales to the Upper Valley Haven through this campaign to encourage local spending and promote charitable giving. With Dan Fraser of Dan and Whit’s leading the charge and Norwich as the epicenter, local businesses from throughout the region are excited to support and expand this community effort.

For Local First Alliance member Village Green Publishing, publisher of the Lebanon Times, Norwich Times, and Quechee Times, participation in this campaign was an easy decision.

“Village Green Publishing’s mission is to highlight the ‘good people, good places, and good things happening’ in the communities it serves. For us, it’s all about building positive community and inspiring each other to do good things in our world,” said owner Jennifer MacMillen. “Our business is built on creating reciprocal relationships between the businesses and readers we serve. ‘What goes around comes around’ holds true, especially at the local level. We believe in patronizing our local merchants almost as our civic duty to keep the flow of money circulating strongly within our shared local economy.”

Fat Hat Clothing Co. in Quechee, Vermont, is another Local First Alliance business eager to help The 19 Days grow. Fat Hat Clothing Co. was one of the first businesses outside of Norwich to ask to participate this year.

“We are happy to be a part of this during the holidays,” said owner Joan Ecker. “We have a gift for everyone in our store, and tons of stocking stuffers. Much of our silver jewelry is hand-made by my daughter, with new pieces being added every day. And all of our clothing is made in America.”

How can you support The 19 Days? Shop at participating businesses! Click here to see a list of our members and other businesses involved. We encourage you to “Think Local First” this holiday season when shopping for goods or services.

Spend a little – give a lot.

Warmest wishes for a joyous season from Local First Alliance.

Ledyard National Bank

Ledyard National Bank Sponsors 19 Days

Local First Alliance isn’t just about keeping money in our local economy; it’s also about giving back to the community we call home. Local First Alliance member Ledyard National Bank will be standing behind this statement on December 1 as an underwriting sponsor of The 19 Days of Norwich campaign. This holiday local-spending campaign, created by Dan Fraser of Dan & Whit’s in Norwich, raises donations for the Upper Valley Haven, which provides shelter, food, and services for people experiencing homelessness. Now in its second year, Local First Alliance businesses will help Norwich expand this exciting project throughout the Upper Valley.

The premise of the campaign is simple. This December 1-20, participating locally owned businesses will donate 1% of their sales of a specific product, service, or their overall sales to the Haven. Through a series of events, discounts, and promotions, shoppers are encouraged to shop locally and make their dollars count. As this year’s holiday season fast approaches, Local First Alliance members from throughout the Upper Valley have joined the effort to promote shopping locally and encourage this important reinvestment in our community.

The concept arose in 2013 when Fraser discovered that the Haven was experiencing a severe shortage of food around the holiday season. He quickly mobilized the town of Norwich and its local business owners, recruiting Norwich businesses to donate “1% for the Haven” in what became “The 19 Days of Norwich.” The effort raised $27,860 and 12.5 tons of food for the Haven. This year, with Ledyard National Bank as a sponsor and the participation of Local First Alliance members, we can expect another impressive outcome.

“I am doing this because we need to be aware that right here in Norwich, and throughout the Upper Valley, hunger is an issue for many people,” said Fraser, a Local First Alliance member. “I started this because our friends and neighbors are the ones in need – these are the people who we work with, children who attend our schools, families that live next door to you or just down the road. I am thrilled that Local First Alliance is pairing with us in this effort. People are slowly realizing that supporting local business matters. Money spent locally stays local.”

On top of their donation, Dan & Whit’s is also selling a cookbook with all proceeds going to the Haven. Breakfasts, canned food drives, wine tastings, open houses, and holiday specials will be available throughout Norwich and the Upper Valley during the 19 days. Shoppers can stop by Dan & Whit’s or a participating businesses. You can find a calendar of ongoing events here.

Local businesses interested in joining “The 19 Days of Norwich” campaign may contact

Mascoma Savings Bank

Champion Member Mascoma Savings Bank

Local First Alliance works to support our local independent businesses. I often hear people say, “I shop locally when I can,” or “There a few local restaurants I always go to.” My response to that is, “GREAT! Those are wonderful ways to reinvest in our community.”

I do, however, know that it’s not realistic to expect someone to buy EVERYTHING locally. Local First Alliance simply asks you to “Think Local First” whenever possible. Buying local isn’t always about the items you purchase – it’s about the service providers you choose, too.

Mascoma Savings Bank is one of Local First Alliance’s Champion members. A mutually owned business, Mascoma answers directly to its customers and puts significant time and money into the community. I wanted to see for myself just how this bank reinvests our hard-earned, local dollars, so I Googled “Mascoma Savings Bank Sponsorships.”The first page of results showed Mascoma’s support of the Hartland Farmers’ Market, the Upper Valley Haven, the Upper Valley Music Center, and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. This is our local bank supporting our local causes. Not national organizations, but the small ones that are close to home.

As a Local First Alliance member, Mascoma Savings Bank has made a commitment to support our region’s economy. All of our members have. So, the next time you are thinking of a place to shop, or eat, OR bank, we ask that you take moment and “Think Local First.” Keep your money hard at work in the Upper Valley.

contest winners 2014

Winners Named in Competition

Winners have been named in Vital Communities’ first-ever Upper Valley High Communications Competition: Forrest Mattern for Print PSA, Ashley Fogg won for Television PSA, and Nate Guarino won for Radio PSA. All hail from Hartford and are seniors in the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center’s Media Arts program taught by Felicia Allard. Their public service announcements support Local First Alliance, answering the question: Why is it cool to shop at locally owned businesses?

“We are thrilled to have been a part of this process and were overwhelmed by the submissions,” said Mundy Wilson Piper, owner of Chippers, which will help promote the winning print PSA. “It was an amazing and inspiring collaboration between the students, Local First Alliance, and the school.”

“Students had the opportunity to work with industry professionals from King Arthur Flour, Co-op Food Stores, and WPTZ, which inspired creativity and some very valuable portfolio work,” added Local First Alliance Manager Emily Gardner.

Submissions from 13 students were evaluated and winners selected by the Local First Alliance Steering Committee. The winning print PSA will run in the Valley News and on the side of a Chippers truck, and the winning radio PSA will run on Great Eastern Radio stations. Each winning artist received a $150 cash award courtesy of Lake Sunapee Bank, Ledyard National Bank, and Mascoma Savings Bank. The winning television PSA will run on WPTZ, and the winner received an iPad courtesy of Systems Plus Computers. The awards were presented at the HACTC senior awards banquet on Thursday, May 22.

Forest Mattern – Print PSA

Ashley Fogg – TV PSA

Nate Guarino – Radio PSA



Local First Alliance

John Ring (CPA)

Local First Alliance is a coalition of independent business owners that have made a commitment to support each other and strengthen our region’s economy. We look for members who ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to reinvesting in our Upper Valley economy.

John Ring, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), is the definition of a vested Local First Alliance member. What sets John apart from others in his field are his devotion to the Upper Valley and his connection to its heritage. He has lived in the Upper Valley for more than 40 years and is proud to be an 11th generation Northern New Englander hailing from such trail blazers as Daniel Webster and the Vermont poet/abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier. Born and raised in Claremont, N.H., John now works out of his home in Norwich, Vt., and has been a CPA since 1971.

“Local First Alliance matches my personal beliefs as a local”, says John. “I only represent local clients and I’m happy when they’re successful. Having grown up in Claremont, I’ve experienced first-hand what happens when we lose our local businesses and only focus on price and convenience.”

Aside from calling this area home, John makes a concerted effort to shop at, and do business with, other Local First Alliance members and locally based businesses. A huge advocate of recycling and environmental sustainability, John also has a personal goal to free himself of the use of any internal combustion engines.

Ledyard National Bank

Ledyard Bank

Ledyard National Bank has been an Upper Valley institution since opening in 1989. Now with seven branches and two Ledyard Financial Advisors offices across the region, the Local First Alliance member strives to give back to the community through a variety of innovative programs. Through a recent campaign encouraging customers to switch to e-statements, for each conversion Ledyard donated a tree for planting in conjunction with the Connecticut River Watershed Council. The bank has also rolled out a new mortgage product to support the purchase of manufactured homes; geared toward low- to moderate-income households, the program serves an often overlooked population in the region. These are just two examples of how the bank helps customers in the local community “Plan well. Live well.”

Three Tomatoes

Three Tomatoes and North Road Sugar Works

Local First Alliance businesses strengthen the Upper Valley economy not only through their own work but by supporting each other. Three Tomatoes Trattoria in downtown Lebanon exemplifies that practice. With the belief that “living and working in the community is a privilege,” Three Tomatoes Trattoria provides a gathering place where neighbors and friends can connect over fresh, authentic, simply prepared Italian meals in a casual atmosphere. The restaurant takes pride in sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers, and actively participating in the good work that best serves the people who live in the Upper Valley.

Another Local First Alliance member, North Road Sugar Works in Vershire, is a new nonprofit organization aimed at establishing an educational sugarhouse while stimulating the local economy and community. Founder Marc McKee, who has 25 years of experience sugaring at Vershire’s Mountain School, is working to build an efficient, sustainably constructed sugarhouse that can serve as a model for “responsible” sugaring and open up discussions about the impacts of climate change on maple trees, “the love and lore associated with maple production,” and the challenges for the industry moving forward. Look for North Road Sugar Works to open (fingers crossed) in Spring 2015.

Local First Alliance

A. B. Gile and Nomad

When Local First Alliance asks you to “remember to keep it local,” we aren’t talking just about shopping. Many of our LFA members are service providers who know what it means to be an active part of the Upper Valley community. These businesses may not sell a physical product, but you can count on their local expertise when it comes to hiring a professional in a specific field.

Based in West Lebanon, NH, A.B. Gile provides insurance coverage to both private individuals and business clients throughout the Upper Valley and greater New England area. This Local First business offers a commitment to its customers that stems from a deep understanding of our specific region. Living and working alongside their clients and employees for generations has fostered a deep sense of dedication to their community. Founded in 1871, A.B. Gile has been meeting the insurance needs of area residents for over 140 years, now supporting and insuring over 75 locally based non-profits!

Local First member and service provider Nomad Communications strives to meet the unique marketing needs of its clients through humor and hard work. Located in Norwich, VT, this business supports area non-profits and has a soft spot for four-legged companions. On any given day, three to four canines can be seen “enhancing” the creative energy at Nomad or warming an office couch. Nomad Communications is a particularly crucial local company, as it works to support other area businesses with everything from market research and strategy to product launches and branding.

Local First Alliance is proud to represent so many members that make our economy strong. These businesses and their employees are a part of the neighborhoods and towns we call home. Choosing to use a Local First Alliance business is making a choice to reinvest in your community and keep your money hard at work in our region. For more Local First Alliance members, please visit our local directory. We thank you for your continued support of our members and our Upper Valley economy.

Co-op Food Store

Co-op Food Stores

Local First Alliance represents business members who have made it their mission to see the Upper Valley economy thrive. These businesses don’t just come and go with no vested interest in our region; they put down roots and increase the vitality of our towns. Long time Local First Alliance member, Co-op Food Stores, is one shining example of what can happen when citizens come together to do what is best for a community. For over 75 years, the Co-op Food Stores have made it their priority to support local agriculture, provide job opportunities, and reinvest in our regions’ charities. This is all made possible by the belief that through cooperation and shared resources, we can improve our standard of life.

“Since our founding in 1936, the members of our cooperative have made a concerted effort to buy local products. We have long understood the importance of keeping dollars at work in the local economy. Shopping locally is the best way to do that. The Co-op’s support of Local First Alliance is a natural extension of our commitment to the Upper Valley region. Education is primary to the mission of Local First Alliance. By fully supporting that effort, our Co-op helps residents find locally owned sources of clothing, food, fuel, and services. Local First Alliance is great for the economy we all share.” – Allan Reetz, Director of Communications at the Co-op Food Stores.

LFA is made strong by its members and grows stronger every day by community members choosing to shop locally so help us spread the word! We thank you Co-op Food Stores and thank you to all of our members who have made it a priority to further our mission of a vital Upper Valley region.

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