Over the past two years, a small ad featuring two red squirrels forming a heart with their tails has appeared at a growing number of businesses in the New River Valley.
The rodent-themed design is the logo of NRV Homegrown, an organization officially launched in 2019 with the general intention of strengthening support for locally formed businesses.
A summary of their overall goal can be found in a business directory that the organization publishes annually. The “Why Local Businesses Matter” section describes local businesses as the “backbone of the economy” and as entities better positioned to meet the needs of the surrounding community.
“Studies show that when you buy from an independent, locally owned company, a much larger portion of your money is used to purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms, thereby strengthening the economic base of the community, ”we read in some of the cases. section text. “Buying local keeps more of your money in the community near you. It means better schools, roads and emergency response teams.
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Similar initiatives to Homegrown exist elsewhere, but some of its founding members said the New River Valley program was directly inspired by a similar program in Asheville, North Carolina.
Mike Donnelly, founding member and board member of the NRV initiative, said the group was formed by a group of cowardly friends, most of whom owned small businesses in the area. He said they wanted to give the area’s small businesses a stronger voice in the community.
Donnelly, however, said Homegrown is not a dig or a direct competitor to the retail chains that actually operate stores in the area – Walmart, for example.
“Our goal is to promote local businesses in the community,” he said, adding that buying from these businesses allows more local dollars to stay in the area.
In addition to its directories, Homegrown offers discount cards that can be purchased online ($ 20 each) or at a large number of member businesses in the area. To participate, member companies must offer some form of discount or special offer on certain products or services to those who use the card in the establishment.
Homegrown had over 419 members as of December, each of which can be found on the program’s website at www.nrvhomegrown.org.
Cards are also sold by what the organization calls affiliates or non-commercial entities such as the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg and groups within some local school districts. Radford City Schools, for example, is a subsidiary and was the first local school system to join us, said Lea Wall, founding member of Homegrown and co-owner of Wall Farm.
Half of the proceeds from the sale of each card go to NRV Homegrown, Wall said. Sales of ads for directories pay for booklets, she said.
Donnelly said there is a civic element to card sales, especially when done in schools.
“Again, if we get a school system… if they’re able to sell 1,000 cards there, that’s $ 10,000 going to that school,” he said.
Buying local helps keep more of your money in the community near you. It means better schools, roads and emergency response teams.
– INDOOR DIRECTORY NRV