Indie business groups chart different paths

March 1, 2013
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Jamaica Plain’s two new associations for local, independent businesses are committed to working together and even possibly even joining into one group in the future, their leaders said in a joint interview at the Gazette office.

The two also joked about the perception of two competing indie business associations, saying they would stage a public fight to gain more press attention.

Locally Owned was founded by the owners of software company Infrared5 in January. JP Local First was created by the owners of City Feed and Supply and Red Sun Press around the same time.

City Feed’s David Warner and Infrared5’s Rebecca Smith Allen said that they would be open to blending into one group in the future, but that, currently, there is “a core mission difference,” Warner said.

But joining forces is something they would be willing to consider in several months or in a year’s time, they said.

While the two groups are both focused on independent, local business, Locally Owned is geared at improving relationships between businesses by sharing knowledge and resources, “so business owners an become stronger and smarter in running their companies,” said Smith Allen.

JP Local First will focus on “marketing local businesses to local customers,” said Warner.

JP already has several business associations: the Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association (JP BAPA), three Main Streets organizations and the Washington Street Business Group, among others. But, Smith Allen and Warner said, none of them are wholly fulfilling the needs of independent, local businesses.

“None of them have the same core mission of solely supporting local businesses all across JP. The manager of the Bank of America is welcome at JP BAPA,” Warner said. “I want to be part of something hyperlocal and more niche-oriented.”

“It’s about bringing new awareness and creating more independently owned businesses,” Smith Allen added.

BAPA, meanwhile, is willing to work with the two new associations.

“I’d hope we can all get together and work moving business forward in JP,” BAPA President Brad Brown told the Gazette.

Egleston Square Main Streets Executive Director Betsy Cowan, however, had not heard of Locally Owned. Cowan is on JP Local First’s steering committee. She said JP Local First is a “continuation” of the efforts JP’s three Main Streets groups have already put forward.

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