At Lowcountry Local First, we believe ownership matters, and relationships matter. That’s why we work with businesses, community members and policymakers to build support for local, independent businesses. Here’s our criteria for a “local, independent business:”

  1. The business is privately held and not publicly traded.
  2. The business owners who have a controlling interest of more than 50% live in the Lowcountry.
  3. The business can make independent decisions regarding the name and look of the business, business purchasing, practices and distribution, as well as pays all their own marketing, rent, and other business expenses.
  4. The business is based locally and has no corporate or national headquarters outside the state.

Why does this matter? Well, local businesses reinvest 3 TIMES MORE money back into our local economy. That means, for every $100 spent at a local business, an average of $45 is recirculated into the Lowcountry, vs. only $15 when that money is spent with a national chain store or corporation. Local businesses are much more likely to hire a local marketing firm, use a local printer, and employ the services of a local attorney, creating a multiplier effect.

What’s more, we’re guessing that you, like us, think the Lowcountry is pretty special and would rather it not become ‘Anywhere, USA.’


Finally, Lowcountry Local First believes in leveling the playing field through a new approach to economic development. A recent report by Good Jobs First found the bulk of state and municipal economic development subsidies are disproportionately spent on the largest corporations rather than small and local businesses. The study found small and local businesses would rather these public monies be spent on ‘public goods’ like transportation and other infrastructure needs. Read more…

To fulfill our mission, we must keep a pulse on the local business community we serve – to know the painpoints and the victories. Here are the survey results from Lowcountry Local First’s 2015 Annual Member Survey. Highlights from the survey include:

  • Lowcountry Local First represents over 500 companies, representing 16,000 workers from across all industries, as well as community members. View our Local Business Directory to get a taste of our membership.
  • Nearly three-quarters of member businesses experienced a gross revenue increase as compared to this time last year, with a median increase of 25%.
  • 94% of businesses employee levels remained the same or increased.
  • Over one-third of businesses are majority woman-owned.
  • Only 1% of members businesses with employees paid by the hour have wage levels at minimum wage, with the vast majority paying wages above minimum wage.
  • 98% of businesses work with local suppliers/service-providers/contractors, and half of those member businesses use between 50% to 100% local suppliers.
  • Hiring/retaining qualified workers, and competition from large corporations topped the list of biggest current challenges, at 36% and 25% respectively.


(click on images to enlarge)

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Lauren Gellatly
Community Development Director at Lowcountry Local First