Local businesses showcase success



 The Brookings Area of Commerce as a part of their “Think Local” campaign put on the first annual Think Local Business Showcase at the Swiftel Center, Oct. 17. Businesses that have been in Brookings for decades as well as businesses that haven’t even opened their first studio yet gathered on floor. 

Think Local is an awareness campaign that’s primary goal is to educate and motivate Brookings residents into purchasing goods and services in Brookings for the greater economic and social good of the community. Empirically, the pragmatic fiscal benefits corroborate the campaigns motives. Spending $100 a month at local retailers generates $24 in local tax revenue each year, and taxable sales in 2012 generated approximately $7 million in revenue for the city. 

“We consider our businesses that are in the community that are employing people, that are paying taxes to the city-all of those types of things, as well as people in the Community, to be our Think Local partners,” said Heidi Gullickson, Executive Director of the Brookings Area of Commerce. 

Reva Johnson, owner of the UPS store in Brookings, and member of the Chamber Board as well as the Business Development Committee for the chamber, brought the idea of the showcase to the Business Development Committee. 

“I’ve lived in a lot of other cities and I’ve been involved in… the same type of promotion with chambers in other cities and it’s always been really successful for our businesses and so I suggested that maybe we try it here,” Johnson said. “It’s great to introduce your business to the community for those who might not know all the services that you have.” 

The showcase provided a laid-back atmosphere conducive for networking. Each company that attended was granted a space to set up their booth displays, where businesses and the general public alike can learn what each company has to offer. Every company as part of the requirements for registration also offered a door prize that were raffled off with tickets that were given to everyone who attended, which means the general public, other businesses and even reporters were eligible to win a small taste of what this city has to offer. 

“We’re building relationships with the community and the businesses in town but also with the general public as well,” said Craig Ammann, Commerce member and General Manager of the Town and Country Shopper. “Once we advertised what the concept was, the requirements, including cost, the response was overwhelming. It was long overdue and we absolutely need to do it again.” 

Businesses that attended ranged from not-for-profits like United Way, to firms with a national reach like CF Gear, and from companies that just opened their doors like Wooden Legs Brewery Co. to companies that have been in Brookings for decades like Allegra. 

“We’re very encouraged by the broad range of businesses that came,” Ammann said. “We really didn’t know what to expect, so we put our best foot forward and we have 32 participants, and we’ve actually had to turn some people away unfortunately only because of size constraints of the facility … we’ll do it again next year just in a bigger venue.” 

The overall reaction from the firms was overwhelmingly positive. More than a dozen companies were interviewed, and all stated that they planned on coming again next year. 

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect since it was the first year that they’ve done it, but I think that it’s gone above my expectations,” said Brooke Liebel of Central Business Supply. “It’s really fun, we get to meet new people and it’s a good