Interested in joining Local First?

Read below to find out which level of membership is right for you! You can apply for your membership here.

What is a locally owned and independent business or organization?

Local First defines a locally owned and independent business or organization as one where the majority of owners live in La Plata County and have full autonomy and decision-making authority with respect to their business practices.

We have come to this definition of Local First ownership for several reasons. Owners or directors with decision-making authority can:

  • choose to purchase goods and services from other locally owned business, increasing the economic return of every dollar for our community
  • change their business practices to respond to the social and environmental needs and desires of our community
  • promote their business in ways that maintain the unique character of our community
  • communicate directly with members of our community on a day-to-day basis


What does this mean in practice?

To qualify to become a business member of Local First and therefore be able to participate in the Be Local Coupon Book and other Local First campaigns each year, a business must be able to answer “yes” to the five questions listed below. If your business doesn’t qualify, but you still want to support Local First, ask us about our Supporting Memberships.

rainbow_phillips1. Is your business or non-profit organization privately held (not publicly traded) or operated as a cooperative?

Intent: Local First serves local owners who are available to meet with us and have autonomy to transform any and all aspects of their businesses to support local communities. While our group is not equipped to engage with national/international organizations, there are other good resources for those businesses, including our local Chambers of Commerce and international groups such as Business for Social Responsibility, the Social Venture Network, and B Corporation. Local managers of businesses that operate on a national/international scale are invited to join Local First as Supporting Members. Supporting Members receive all the benefits of regular members except promotion within the Be Local Coupon Book and the rest of our Local First campaigns.

Intent: Local First serves local and independent businesses within La Plata County, Colorado. We also serve agricultural producers in La Plata, Montezuma, Dolores, San Juan (Colorado), and Archuleta Counties to acknowledge the greater food shed region that produces local food. Local First serves local agricultural producers that produce 100% of their agricultural product and a minimum of 70% of their value-added products. For example, if you sell pickles, 100% of your cucumbers would be grown locally, but 30% of your overall value added product (dill, vinegar, etc.) could be sourced from outside the region.

Intent: You might have business financing that comes in the form of debt, equity, family trusts, or other innovative scenarios. This question relates to whether or not the business owners or controlling board of directors who have responsibility for that financing reside in La Plata, Montezuma, Dolores, San Juan (Colorado), and/or Archuleta Counties. Our intent is to support business owners who are actively involved in our community.

4. Is your business registered in the state of Colorado, with no corporate or national headquarters outside La Plata County?

Intent: Local First is an organization comprising local residents and business owners. There are other organizations better equipped to work with businesses that operate nationally or internationally and have headquarters outside of our region (see #1 above). Local managers of businesses that operate on a national/international scale are invited to join Local First as Supporting Members.

5. Do you have full autonomy to make your own independent decisions regarding your unique business and its purchasing, operations, and distribution, as well as the name and look of your business?

Intent: Local First promotes reciprocity between local business owners and customers in order to strengthen the communities of La Plata County. By autonomy we mean the ability to choose local potatoes for French fries (rather than having to use what’s shipped from a parent company), to change delivery methods to lessen environmental impacts, to re-organize the ownership or profit-sharing structure of the business, or to pursue any other idea a local owner has to strengthen our community through their business.

6. Do you pay all your own marketing, rent, and other business expenses (without assistance from, or payment to, a corporate headquarters)?

Intent: One of the advantages of locally owned, independent businesses is that they’re unique and contribute to our region’s unique character. Businesses that are part of national marketing cooperatives and use the same names, signs, and ads don’t contribute in the same way to this sense of place. However, businesses owners that enjoy a national marketing presence can still join Local First as Supporting Members and receive all membership benefits except promotion within the Be Local Coupon Book and the rest of our Local First campaigns.

If you answered “yes” to all six questions above, Local First welcomes you to join as a Business Member. Membership is valid from January through December each year.

If you answered “no” to any of the questions, we encourage you to take advantage of our Supporting Membership.

For more information about the benefits of Local First Membership see our Member Benefits Flyer

(If you’d prefer to print and mail your application, please see: Membership Eligibility Questionnaire)

Otherwise, click your preferred membership below to continue.