Local First launches new online business directory

Hanna Schulze Courtesy of Mod Bettie Portrait Boutique

Local First offers West Michigan residents a new resource for finding and tracking local businesses.

The Grand Rapids-based economic development nonprofit unveiled a new website last week, with an update to its online business directory that includes public businesses, what they offer and how get it.

“Local First has been working on the new site for about a year,” said Hanna Schulze, president of Local First. “But we have been collecting comments and comments for much longer than that. Its features and functionality match what member companies and consumers have told us they need.

The online directory includes approximately 600 local businesses based primarily in Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood, Holland, Saugatuck and surrounding areas. Businesses are members of Local First, which means they are locally owned, privately owned and based in West Michigan.

Site visitors can search the directory by keyword, demographic, business type and location. Business listings include contact information, social media links, events, discounts, promotions, and image galleries.

The website also includes a Member Hub, where Local First member businesses can log in and update their roster in real time. Any changes to curbside, delivery, online and/or social distancing protocols can be edited by members and shared via the directory.

“If we’ve learned anything over the past six months, it’s that things can change quickly,” Schulze said. “Giving member businesses the keys to their own SEO is key to ensuring consumers have the most up-to-date information. Cataloging local businesses in this manner will continue to empower local West Michigan consumers to spend intentionally and vote with their dollar.

Mieke Stoub, director of marketing at Local First, said she hopes consumers in West Michigan will take the opportunity to browse the new business directory and choose which food and beverage companies to support this fall, as the organization’s annual Fork Fest event had to be canceled due to COVID-19.

Details to become a member of Local First are available at localfirst.com/join/become-a-member.

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