Kimber Lanning, director of Local First Arizona, says the benefits of buying from locally owned businesses extend to state contracts as well. She wants Arizona to follow the lead of many other states by giving preference in competitive bids for state contracts to local companies. Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First Arizona
Local First Arizona is the largest coalition of independently owned businesses in North America, representing nearly 3,000 businesses of all sizes throughout the state. Our mission is to build a stronger, more resilient economy for Arizona through the support of our Arizona-owned companies.

For generations, leadership in Arizona looked elsewhere for talent and spent most of the state’s economic development budget enticing companies to relocate or expand here. In recent years, new studies have shown that actually investing in home grown talent and entrepreneurs is not only more economical, it’s more fruit-bearing as well.

At Local First Arizona, we believe in Arizona’s ability to lead the nation and the world in a diverse array of innovation- from medicine, scientific discovery, aerospace and technology, to agriculture, arts and culture, and higher education. The talent we have is remarkable. Our challenge will be to strive to hold our standards high in order to propel our assets onto the world stage.

The wine growers of Arizona have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to place Arizona as a leader in not only producing, but growing world recognized and respected wines. Already, many of our state’s wineries are winning prestigious national awards and gaining respect from critics, publications, and other international growers with generations of experience and expertise.

In order to increase this momentum, a new organization has formed, called the Arizona Vignerons Alliance (http://arizonavigneronsalliance.org/), which aims to establish parameters for growing grapes and producing wines in Arizona that adhere to internationally recognized standards for wine quality. The AVA will also gather viniculture data that will establish varieties best suited for achieving these standards in Arizona wine production.

Operating as a collective, the AVA will work collaboratively to market Arizona wines, with deliberate strategies to raise the profile of Arizona as a wine growing region, producing internationally respected wines. Local First Arizona looks forward to partnering with the AVA to build awareness of our outstanding wineries in Arizona, across the country, and internationally which will grow our economy, drive tourism, and build civic pride.

Cheers to Arizona’s future!

-Kimber Lanning
Executive Director, Local First Arizona and Arizona Rural Development Council.