Keep It Local Columbia County has new logo, new focus
Keep It Local Columbia County is entering the spring and summer months with a new logo, a catchy slogan, and new ways to help small businesses.
The program promotes local businesses and partners with small business development organizations.
Its director, Sierra Trass, said Keep It Local's goal is "bringing awareness to the variety of businesses that Columbia County has."
In describing the new slogan, "Shop, Taste, Play Local, Live Local," Trass said the idea is "really just to go back to that spirit of when you're engaged where your home is, you really build up that community by spending the dollars where you live."
Keep It Local focuses on small businesses.
"We promote anywhere from local restaurants, coffee shops, farmers, and of course, contractors, professional services," Trass said. "Basically, if you're a small business in Columbia County, we will promote you."
Keep It Local partners with local organizations such as chambers of commerce, the St. Helens Main Street Program and local nonprofits.
Trass said there has been a "rebrand," or fine-tuning, of how Keep It Local Columbia County — a nonprofit itself — helps businesses.
"We are focusing on two things. First is promotion of local businesses and the happenings of Columbia County," Trass said. "The second is developing more collaboration in the Columbia County community."
As an example of this collaboration, Trass said business owners can get in touch with her about connecting with another business.
"Say if you are a farmer who wants to sell to a local restaurant, I can help connect," Trass said. "There's a lot of that interconnection that I provide."
Trass continued, "Not only do we have our marketing channels, but we also have a small business website directory that is free for any business to be on. I've been working on grants for that."
The business directory helps businesses get more recognized on internet search engines.
Trass said Keep It Local Columbia County is partnering with the recently announced small business development center in Columbia County.
"We're going to be working as another communication piece to connect people to that center," she said.
The Columbia County Small Business Development Center will be the 20th center in Oregon and the first new center in the state since 2013.
Since becoming director of Keep It Local in July 2021, replacing Natasha Parvey, Trass has seen two sides of the COVID-19 pandemic, from indoor mask restrictions going back into place last summer to the loosening of restrictions in recent weeks.
"It's a little interesting for our program specifically, because I came in the middle of the pandemic," Trass said.
When Trass took over, she added, "I was learning about everything and offering the core value that the program has now. In my experience, I actually saw more positive things from the pandemic for the small business community. More people were really strong in believing in the 'shop local, be local' mission."
Trass added, "I actually felt like the program was growing during the pandemic."
When a new business opens, it's critical to build a loyal customer base quickly, amid all the competition. Keep It Local Columbia County can help build that base.
"Contact me, please, if you want to do a live video of your grand opening," Trass said. "If business owners want to find other resources and other connections to help them get connected to the community, we definitely are the conduit to speak to."
Trass has no shortage of optimism looking ahead to spring, summer and beyond.
"I'm naturally an optimistic person," she said. "I actually do think we are moving in a really great direction, in part because one of the best things the pandemic did was identify the need that we need a resource center, and now we have one made possible through the Columbia Economic Team."
Trass continued, "All of us working together, I think is going to create a stronger mission and a more resource-packed approach to continually developing small business."
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