In a month dedicated to showing love, FreeState is showing love to businesses that are members of the cooperative with the newly launched Love Local Business Directory powered by FreeState. The program is an ongoing effort to support local and small businesses while providing a point of connection that will hopefully spark an uptick in business.
“As a cooperative and part of rural communities, we want to help meet the needs of members who wish to support other members,” said Jennifer Ping, member relations manager. “The goal of this directory is to provide members a place to find other FreeState members who are locally owned small businesses.”
“We know our priority is to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity, but we know that electricity is critical to our everyday life, but it takes so much more to power communities,” Ping added. “It takes small businesses and it takes people supporting them.”
Ping also said the cooperative is working on ways to help members meet new challenges while strengthening communities.
“We want to be a catalyst for good and for promoting our businesses,” said Ping.
Support from other members is key when forming these connections. Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Sarah Farlee says that one way the cooperative can help communities is to promote thinking local.
“This goes back to our Power On initiative,” said Farlee. “We know that as communities, and businesses start fully recovering from the impact this past year that we want to help connect folks to each other.”
“We hear it time and time again, that we need to support local businesses, but sometimes that includes more than just a small downtown area. It may include businesses that you’ve never even heard of — or maybe didn’t realize were there,” Farlee said. “That’s where this directory comes in. It helps provide a simple listing of different businesses who are FreeState members specifically.”
The project started after a meeting about the co-op’s annual meeting and how we can better showcase local businesses and highlight the cooperative core value concern for the community.
“As someone who is out and about meeting with different members and small businesses, we knew there was a need for something, but we weren’t sure what it was,” said Matt Lambert, energy use coordinator. “We knew we needed a way to connect people, and out of a simple conversation the directory grew into something we think members will take advantage of.”
The directory will connect FreeState members with businesses who are also FreeState members, or owned and operated by FreeState members, but in time that may expand to include all small businesses in the area.
“We want to see how this works, and what kind of feedback we get,” said Farlee. “We’re all learning as we go and we want to promote supporting small businesses you know, and also discovering businesses you don’t yet know.”
“The directory is an exploratory tool for folks to utilize and we hope that will help our business community,” Farlee added. “We want to see where we are and how we can help, and we need to start somewhere. Our own businesses seemed a great place to start.”
FreeState supports economic development in the area by engaging in chamber of commerce organizations, as well as civic organizations employees are involved with.
“Our job may be to keep the lights on, but our real passion is the communities we call home. We live here too, and we want to make it a better place for all of us. The core of our business is helping communities thrive, it’s who we are, and no matter what the future brings you can count on your electric cooperative. By working together, we’re certain that we can continue to do good things for our communities and members,” Farlee said.