To quote the legendary Robert Zimmerman, “the times they are a-changin'” in Asheville. As new hotels and construction sites pop up across across the city seemingly every week and nationally-branded chains vie for retail space downtown, the local small business alliance known as Asheville Grown is reminding the Asheville community of the importance of keeping small, locally-owned businesses at the center of the city’s economic development plans.
To this end, the organization has announced a new card design for its 2016 Go Local campaign and is soliciting businesses and community members to sign on and help support its cause.
“Asheville Grown, in partnership with 450 local businesses, helped raise over $10,000 this year for our public schools and area nonprofits through the 2015 Go Local Card,” the organization announced in a press release earlier this week. “We’re determined to make 2016 the best year yet.”
The 2016 Go Local card, designed by Sound Mind Creative‘s Jenny Greer Fares, uses the familiar fable of the tortoise and the hare as a symbolic representation of “ingenuity and determination [to] overcome the stronger, overconfident opponent,” according to Asheville Grown. “By acting steadily through smart growth, together we can bring about thoughtful change at a local level.”
The organization has offered a variety of thoughts and ideas on how to facilitate responsible, locally-driven economic growth in downtown Asheville and throughout the city on its website. And as Asheville continues to grow, supporting locally-owned businesses becomes ever more important, according to Franzi Charen, founder of Asheville Grown.
“[Go Local] advocates for the one thing most precious to our local economy: local businesses,” she says. “As corporations come into a city and buy downtown property, we know what other communities have experienced as a result of that — they’ve lost their community culture, they’ve lost so many businesses.”
In addition, Charen notes that local businesses are primarily responsible for creating job opportunities in secondary industries, such as accounting, services, bookkeeping and graphic design. “The chains and corporations centralize all of those jobs — Starbucks isn’t going to be hiring a local bookkeeper or accountant or lawyer,” she adds. ” When an economy loses its secondary jobs, that’s crushing to a community.”
Charen and Asheville Grown are calling on more locally-owned, independent businesses to support its movement by signing on to participate in 2016’s Go Local campaign by November 1, 2015. “Membership is free; all we ask is that you create an offer exclusive for Go Local Card holders.” Businesses can register online at ashevillegrown.com/membership.
All participating businesses will be listed in the official 2016 Go Local Guide. Over 40,000 copies of the guide will be printed and distributed by Mountain Xpress in early December.
“For so long, the playing field has not been level: The cities, counties and state are giving millions of dollars in subsidies to corporations, while locally-owned businesses get hardly anything,” says Charen. “We want to champion the local businesses and represent our community through this campaign.”
Residents wishing to support the Go Local program can purchase a 2016 Go Local Card online beginning in November at ashevillegrown.com. Cards will also be available for purchase at over 20 participating public schools and businesses around the Asheville area. The price is $16 per card, with $8 of each purchase going towards supporting public schools in the area.
The 2016 Go Local Card is valid from December 1, 2015 until December 31, 2016 and qualifies cardholders for discounts and rewards at hundreds of businesses in and around Asheville. For examples of discount offers from last year and which businesses participated in the 2015 Go Local program, check out the online directory at ashevillegrown.com.
“The Go Local Card links your businesses to the people who care, the people who are the locals, who want to support our community,” Charen notes. “It’s something that people can get excited about and celebrate.”