Growing Local Value

How to Build Business Partnerships that Strengthen Your Community

Growing Local Value
  • By the cofounder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies--the nation's most prominent advocacy organization for local businesses--and the founder of the internationally known children's clothing company Hanna Andersson
  • Details specific business practices that will enable local businesses to strengthen both their communities and their bottom lines
  • Offers a host of real-world examples from companies such as Greyston Bakery, Wild Planet Toys, Powell's Books, and many others

Growing a successful business is about meeting the needs of customers--and, by extension, the needs of the entire community. Turn your business into a good citizen and you can help ensure its success and contribute to making your community a great place to live and work. Growing Local Value shows how to build a values-driven business that is deeply embedded in local life.

Drawing on real-world examples from Greyston Bakery, Wild Planet Toys, Powell's Books, and many other companies, Laury Hammel and Gun Denhart show how you can leverage every aspect of your business--from product creation to employee recruitment, vendor selection, and raising capital--to benefit both the community and the bottom line. Growing Local Value explores in depth how your business can contribute to its community--and the benefits it will receive when it does.

• By the cofounder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies--the nation's most prominent advocacy organization for local businesses--and the founder of the internationally known children's clothing company Hanna Andersson
• Details specific business practices that will enable local businesses to strengthen both their communities and their bottom lines
• Offers a host of real-world examples from companies such as Greyston Bakery, Wild Planet Toys, Powell's Books, and many others

Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt

Paperback:

$16.95$11.87

Additional Links:

Endorsements
Bulk Discounts
Rights Information


Featured Books


More About This Book

Overview

  • By the cofounder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies--the nation's most prominent advocacy organization for local businesses--and the founder of the internationally known children's clothing company Hanna Andersson
  • Details specific business practices that will enable local businesses to strengthen both their communities and their bottom lines
  • Offers a host of real-world examples from companies such as Greyston Bakery, Wild Planet Toys, Powell's Books, and many others

Growing a successful business is about meeting the needs of customers--and, by extension, the needs of the entire community. Turn your business into a good citizen and you can help ensure its success and contribute to making your community a great place to live and work. Growing Local Value shows how to build a values-driven business that is deeply embedded in local life.

Drawing on real-world examples from Greyston Bakery, Wild Planet Toys, Powell's Books, and many other companies, Laury Hammel and Gun Denhart show how you can leverage every aspect of your business--from product creation to employee recruitment, vendor selection, and raising capital--to benefit both the community and the bottom line. Growing Local Value explores in depth how your business can contribute to its community--and the benefits it will receive when it does.

• By the cofounder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies--the nation's most prominent advocacy organization for local businesses--and the founder of the internationally known children's clothing company Hanna Andersson
• Details specific business practices that will enable local businesses to strengthen both their communities and their bottom lines
• Offers a host of real-world examples from companies such as Greyston Bakery, Wild Planet Toys, Powell's Books, and many others

Back to Top ↑

Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Gun Denhart
Gun Denhart co-founded the Hanna Andersson children's clothing company in 1983, and currently serves on the board of directors of the Oregon Business Association (Chair emeritus), Ecotrust, the Russell Family Foundation, and the World Affairs Council.

Visit Author Page - Laury Hammel


Laury Hammel is the owner and president of The Longfellow Clubs, a group of four New England health and recreation clubs established in 1980. He is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and is the founder and chair of the International Symposium on Spirituality and Business.

Back to Top ↑




Letter from the Editor of the Social Venture Network Series

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Why Local?

Chapter 1:
Customer and Community First

Chapter 2: Values-Based Financing

Chapter 3: Partnering with Your Employees

Chapter 4: Business Networking for Local Value

Chapter 5: Creating Partnerships with Nonprofits

Chapter 6: Making Sustainability Your Competitive Advantage

Chapter 7: Collaborating with Government

Chapter 8:
Building a Bridge to the Future

Notes
Suggested Reading
Resources
Index
About Social Venture Network
About the Authors

Back to Top ↑

growing local value

INTRODUCTION
Why local?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have a powerful drive to succeed. You’re restless. You’re driven to grow and improve. That’s what gets us all up in the morning—it’s in our bones.

Chances are you’ve learned, as we have, that growing a successful business is about meeting the needs of customers—and, by extension, the needs of an entire community. By turning your business into a good citizen and weaving it into the fabric of your community, you can help ensure your company’s profitability and long-term success. A mutually beneficial relationship of this sort will give your business a competitive edge while simultaneously helping grow local value. By local value we mean the relative quality of life in the community, including good health care, safe and abundant drinking water, and excellent schools. This book is our attempt to show, in a practical, down-to-earth way, how you can increase your company’s profits, make your company more sustainable, and grow local value for your community.

Growing Local Value is one in a series of books written by members of Social Venture Network (SVN), an organization committed to making the world a better place through business. In this book, we discuss a new way to run a company—using humane values as the driving force of the business. We see ourselves as part of a broader movement to transform commerce from a system that is destructive of our earth and economically unjust to one that is sustainable and fair. However, the word local in our title has significance all its own.

Science has helped surround us with great conveniences and connect us electronically with people everywhere. But these advances come at a high price. Our experiences are filtered through electronic devices—television, cell phones, and the Internet—and we lack direct contact with real people. These “mediated experiences” have created in many of us a great yearning to touch and connect more deeply and naturally with other people.

Personal relationships develop more easily and often grow deeper when we participate in activities in our local community. Activities such as shopping, participating in school and civic events, and working out all take on greater meaning in today’s world. Human beings are social animals, and a desire to be with people is embedded within our DNA. This longing for human contact is central to our physical, mental, and spiritual health. We all want to be a part of a community and to feel connected with a sense of place.

People intuitively understand the value of doing business with people they know and trust. We appreciate our relationship with the owner of the local hardware store. We long to restore our relationship with the local pharmacist who couldn’t compete with the chains and was forced to close shop. Buying locally also helps build strong local economies. Economic studies in Texas, Maine, and Illinois have shown that when a customer purchases a product from a locally owned business, more money stays in the community. The most recent of these studies, conducted in Andersonville, Illinois, in October 2004, evaluated the economic role played by independent businesses. The results showed that for every $100 in consumer spending with a local firm, $68 remains in the Chicago economy versus $43 for spending at a chain store.1 The economic multiplier (which indicates the economic impact and ripple effect of purchasing from local businesses) increases with each new local purchase.2 A strong retail district of locally owned businesses also builds unique and interesting places for residents to gather and have fellowship. Shopping locally just makes sense.

By partnering with all the various stakeholders in your business—customers, employees, vendors, fellow businesses, owners/investors, nonprofits, the environment, and the public sector—you can grow local value. All of these stakeholders make up your community, which in this book means everyone and everything that resides in a small geographic area, usually a town or city. If your business is located in more than one town or city, your local community may include all these stakeholders at every location.

Leading entrepreneurs seek to balance the needs of all stakeholders in the community. The term stakeholder represents an important concept in the language of business because it acknowledges that a company does not operate in isolation and is, in fact, dependent on many constituencies for its success. Furthermore, these partners all have a stake in the business, and their interests need to be considered when management decisions are made. Another way of simplifying this concept is to use the term triple bottom line, which some entrepreneurs use to describe their business mission—to support people, the planet, and profits.

In this book you’ll read how values-driven entrepreneurs all across America have successfully created partnerships where everyone involved wins—the entrepreneur and all the stakeholders. In fact, as will become abundantly clear to you as you make your way through these pages, we believe that building partnerships in the community will help you gain a competitive advantage that will allow you to compete more effectively and build a stronger business.

In each of the following seven chapters, we’ll focus on one of the seven key stakeholder groups. Each chapter will show how you can build bridges leading to meaningful partnerships with that stakeholder group. We’ll relate an exceptional example of a values-driven business that has successfully leveraged its strength to grow local value. Of course, we all make mistakes. Painful management decisions often set the stage for future good decisions, resulting in a more experienced and intelligent management team, so the entrepreneurs from each company will share a management mistake they made. You’ll also learn how the company struggles with a challenging and ongoing “management tension.” You know as well as we do that running a business can get messy, and dealing with the conflicting needs of stakeholders can be challenging. Next you’ll read a sampling of best practices used by other companies to create innovative and replicable partnerships that represent a wide range of industries.

Finally, each chapter will conclude with a series of lessons. Our hope is that this book will not only inspire you to find new ways to generate revenue but save you time and money by helping you learn from the mistakes and successes of some of North America’s leading entrepreneurs.

Much of our business success has come from learning from the experience of others and finding ways to innovate and add value to our products and our communities.

Gun Denhart is the founder of Hanna Andersson, a $95 million clothing retail business, known to customers throughout North America for durable children’s clothing that lets kids be kids. In its hometown of Portland, Oregon, Hanna is recognized as a good corporate citizen, supporting programs and initiatives that put children first. Hanna has set up a foundation that supports vulnerable children in communities where the company operates.

Laury Hammel founded the Longfellow Clubs in 1980, starting with one tennis club outside Boston. The Longfellow Clubs is now a group of health and sports clubs, holistic health centers, and children’s centers and camps with $15 million in revenues. Longfellow serves twelve thousand members and is the fourth largest independent health club business in New England. The Longfellow Clubs’ mission is to enhance the health and well-being of all people in the community. Its programs include tennis classes for people with special needs, alcohol-free overnight prom parties, and discounted memberships for local town employees.

We’ve loved the journey of entrepreneurship, and we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to pour ourselves into worthy missions. We have forged meaningful partnerships between our businesses and our communities. And we’ve learned that the stronger that bond, the more the partners benefit.

We’ve both intentionally surrounded ourselves with staff members who share our deep commitment to the missions of our companies. Our teams’ enthusiasm enables us to overcome obstacles and ultimately produce what many view as extraordinary results.

Like all entrepreneurs, we’ve made critical choices along the path of building our companies. Some ideas worked and some didn’t. For better or for worse, each management decision had to meet the standards and values of our companies and our personal consciences. We know that thousands of small and large decisions cumulatively determine the integrity of an entrepreneur and the soul of a business. And from a practical perspective, we really had no choice. It was either do what our hearts were telling us to do or be miserable.

We’ve met hundreds of entrepreneurs who share our desire to do well while doing good. Like us, they are hungry to both grow their businesses and better serve the needs of their communities. But these entrepreneurs tend to be overworked, underfinanced, and often overwhelmed with making payroll or dealing with the inevitable daily crises that arise.

This book offers a road map with a variety of possible routes toward growing local value. Each path will help you move your business in the direction you choose. Every entrepreneurial passion is different, and each business is unique. Our aim is to encourage you to create strategies that will transform a worthy vision into a healthy living reality. Please use and abuse this book. Underline it, highlight it, write notes, e-mail excerpts, pass it around the office—whatever works to stimulate conversation within your business.

Back to Top ↑

Endorsements



"Hammel and Denhart free us from two tired myths: that business and social mission don't mix and that in a Wal-Mart world local enterprise is passe. Plus, the fascinating cases and the practical lessons in Growing Local Value make for great reading."

—Frances Moore Lappe, author of Democracy's Edge and Hope's Edge

"In a world awash in stories of corporate predators, it's refreshing to read the stories of local independent entrepreneurs with strong social consciences who are building successful businesses that create local value. Hammel and Denhart reveal how they do it. Essential reading for everyone dedicated to building vital local economies and communities that work for everyone."

—David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning and When Corporations Rule the World

"Move over Stephen Covey! The real eighth habit for highly successful people is to be the kind of community-loving entrepreneur depicted by Hammel and Denhart. Anyone running a business, studying business, or dreaming of having a business should study this book and heed its wise yet practical advice."

—Michael H. Shuman, author of The Small-Mart Revolution

Back to Top ↑