Led by Guy Bazzani, owner of Bazzani Associates, Local First was founded in 2003 as an informal group of seven business owners dedicated to promoting local businesses in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Originally known as BALLE West Michigan, the group formed an early partnership with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Centered in Grand Rapids' resurgent Uptown business district, Local First's predecessor quickly established itself as a vital tool for owners and supporters of local business alike to discuss and promote their interests.
In 2007, with 150 local businesses participating, Local First hired its first full-time executive director, Elissa Hillary. With focused leadership, Local First began to grow exponentially, expanding beyond its traditional Uptown boundaries and throughout West Michigan. By the end of 2009, Local First's membership exceeded 500 locally owned businesses, and Elissa was joined by a full-time membership coordinator and a part-time program coordinator.
Local First of West Michigan
955 Wealthy St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
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