Arizona nonprofit helped create over 130 jobs in 2018, according to report

Apr 1, 2019, 4:00 AM

(Instagram Photo/@localfirstaz)...

(Instagram Photo/@localfirstaz)

(Instagram Photo/@localfirstaz)

PHOENIX — According to a new annual impact report from Local First Arizona, the nonprofit played a role in creating 137 jobs in 2018.

The organization, which offers educational and networking programs to local businesses, has had 536 students complete its programs since 2013.

According to the report, those graduates generated over $6 million in gross sales last year.

Local First Arizona brings tools to small businesses in low-income communities to help encourage growth, finance education and cut dependence on social services, executive director Kimber Lanning said.

She said the organization reaches out to rural communities to encourage self-reliance.

“Poverty has increased 25 percent over the last 25 years,” she said.

“It’s an opportunity for us to dig into these communities to really build strength and resilience by strengthening local entrepreneurs in rural areas.”

Lanning said small businesses often have difficulty gaining access to build capital.

She said large banks are not interested in making small business loans, in amounts of up to $25,000.

To help fulfill those needs, Local First Arizona launched a micro-lending fund with Freeport-McMoRan, a Phoenix-based mining company.

The local regulatory environment can also add to other challenges small businesses face, according to Lanning, with one of those challenges being securing a physical location.

“In rural areas, they don’t have a more broadened, more expansive building codes…which are rigidly written,” Lanning said.

“It makes it so hard for businesses to get their doors open to operate in older building spots.”

Lanning said one Local First Arizona graduate recently opened a second coffee shop location, another saved up enough money to pay for college and a barbershop owner was able to rebuild and start a new company.

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Arizona nonprofit helped create over 130 jobs in 2018, according to report