Jamaica Plain now has two new associations for local, independent businesses, both founded last month. It remains to be seen how independent they will be from each other.
Locally Owned was founded by the owners of software company Infrared5. JP Local First was created by the owners of City Feed and Supply and Red Sun Press around the same time, as the Gazette previously reported.
Rebecca Allen, CEO of Infrared5, said she started Locally Owned to serve as a group of JP-based businesses that could share resources and knowledge to mutually benefit each other.
“The concept was to create a support system to help small business grow,” Allen said.
Though they look like competitors, the groups are trying to come up with distinct missions while also pledging to work together.
Allen learned of JP Local First’s formation from the Gazette. She said she had met with and discussed her idea for a local business association with a City Feed representative before either group started.
Allen told the Gazette she believes JP Local First’s goal is promoting retail businesses, while her own Locally Owned is targeted at improving relationships between businesses by sharing knowledge and resources. But Local First is also aimed at non-retail businesses.
The two groups, both of which are planning to file for non-profit status, are coordinating efforts to maximize their impact, their respective leaders said.
City Feed’s David Warner, co-creator of JP Local First, told the Gazette that his group’s primary focus “will be on informing and educating all of the residents of Jamaica Plain about the importance of supporting locally owned businesses.”
“To that end, anyone who is participating in Rebecca’s group who is also primarily providing goods and services to JP residents will also be welcome and encouraged to participate in our group,” Warner said.
Warner and Allen both told the Gazette that they are planning on coordinating efforts for meet-ups that could benefit members of both groups. Allen is planning a small seminar with a social media expert, to which JP Local First members will be invited. Warner added that his group is planning to invite a human resources lawyer to discuss best practices for small businesses—an event to which Locally Owned members would also be invited.
“We’re here to help support each other,” Allen said.
So far, Locally Owned members include retail shops, real estate firms, restaurants, attorneys, designers, a picture framer and physical therapists.
“The people who are emailing me, I’d never meet them normally,” Allen said. “It’s amazing. When you tap into the community, you really can expand your business.”
Locally Owned had 15 people at its first meeting and Allen is expecting 30 at the group’s next meeting on Feb. 25. Businesses interested in joining can email her at email@example.com.
JP Local First is based on the “Local First” model promoted by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, which has assisted in the formation of similar “Local First” organizations, including in Somerville, Cambridge and Brookline.
Infrared5 is a company that creates video games and other software, mostly for smartphones and the web. Their website is infrared5.com.