Communities across the country are in a race to become the “best”; “best tech town”, the “top city for young entrepreneurs”, the “best place to start a business”, the “friendliest city”, the “best place to visit” and on and on. At Lowcountry Local First we feel that the independent businesses in the Lowcountry are what make us unique, set us apart from the masses and drive all the other “best of” lists in which we are constantly striving to achieve recognition.

At our recent GoodBusiness Summit one of the attendees stated that the most important thing a business can do for their community is to be successful — and we couldn’t agree more. We know that when a local business is successful that they are able to hire more people, they are able to work with other local businesses and in turn have the ability to give back to the community. The idea of business as a force for good goes hand-in-hand with building a successful business model. During the closing session of the Summit, Christine Perich [CEO of New Belgium Brewing] shared why they choose to operate as a Benefit Corporation that is 100% employee-owned. New Belgium reached $190MM in sales in 2013, has nearly 600 employees and donates $1 from every barrel produced to a nonprofit. This is just one example of the types of businesses that we were excited to bring to Charleston in order to learn from their success stories.

We know that investing in local businesses is something that we as individuals have the ability to do each and every day by voting with our dollars for the type of community we want to live in. When the businesses that are rooted in our community are able to grow and thrive, we find that business leaders like Steve Palmer (Indigo Road Restaurant Group) and Mariana Hay (Croghan’s Jewel Box) – who value their employees, support other local businesses and give back to the community –  are able to develop a business that can be passed on through the generations.

So, perhaps the accolade Charleston should strive for is “Best City for Local Independent Businesses”! The economic, social and quality of life benefits of this achievement are something we can all enjoy.

Jamee Haley
Executive Director at Lowcountry Local First