There are networking events, and then there are worthwhile networking events. Last week I attended a schmoozing cocktail affair and left after the first half hour. It just wasn’t my scene.

The next day, Dorie Morales, a friend and publisher of Green Living AZ magazine, called and invited me to another networking event that evening. “I know you’ll love this. Local First Arizona is one of my favorite organizations,” she said, in response to my grumbling about my experience the night before.

Dorie was convincing, and I decided to give it a try. And I’m so glad I did!

Walking into the huge warehouse-type structure in the heart of the arts district in downtown Phoenix, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. But it wasn’t long before I was warmly welcomed by Local First volunteers and given the rundown on the evening’s affair. The night’s event space, monOrchid, is a large building comprised of open exhibition space, office pods, and two world-class photo cycloramas. A tour of the space was quite impressive.

I wasn’t there very long before I became engaged in conversation with several interesting entrepreneurs. I must say, the energy and excitement of the Local First attendees was absolutely contagious. I also wasn’t there very long before I decided that Local First is an organization that I’d like to join.

Local First Arizona is a non-profit organization working to strengthen communities and local economies through growing, supporting, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout the state. They educate consumers, business leaders, and policymakers about the significant economic, civic, and cultural benefits of strong local economies.

An interesting educational tidbit from Local First’s website is that for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remains in the local economy and $27 leaves. For every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, $43 remains in the local economy and $57 leaves.

Local First ArizonaClick here for more information on Local First Arizona.