What Happens When A Community Thrives

“...last night I was with with hundreds of local businesses, encouraging us all to Think Local First. We must support local business.”

Mayor Bowser


In 2018, Think Local First DC turned 12 years old, having all the growth and challenges of adolescence, which ultimately made us stronger.  As the only business organization dedicated to educating, advocating for, and connecting the DC local business economy, we end the year proud to say we continued to do so. Local independent businesses are the backbone of our economy and make daily decisions that address issues of economic, environmental, racial, and social equity. They are better positioned to respond to the needs of our community and are inherently tied to the future of Washington, D.C.


We’re grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the businesses that make DC thrive!


Our 2018 Highlights:

  • The 4th annual DC Brau Holiday Marketplace during Thanksgiving Weekend was an at-capacity hit, generating over $90,000 in local economic activity in a single day.

  • We promoted and partnered with 50 individual efforts, organizations, and government agencies to spread the word and spotlight local events and initiatives.
  • We hired our first Managing Director and increased our board membership to include six local business owners and nonprofit leaders: WACIF, Steadfast Supply, Tenleytown Trash, GMP LLP, DC Library and DC Bar Pro Bono.

  • Through our partnership with JBG, we provided pop-up retail space to more than 10 makers at The Shay in the Historic Shaw-U Street neighborhood.

  • We curated two sold-out events: The Builder Dinner and Local First Awards. Both of these highlighted the impact of local businesses as a solution to many or our city’s increasing needs and the efforts of our partners.

  • We partnered with the DC Department of Human Services to introduce our Workforce For All program, which will continue to match DC residents with gainful employment at locally owned businesses.

  • TLF collaborated with Cureate Connect and Dreaming Out Loud on “Grown in DC” to educate 27 food entrepreneurs over nine months on the School of Food curriculum, culminating in a pitch competition in June 2018 at Union Market. Five food entrepreneurs pitched and sampled their food for the public. The winner was Custom Cuisine, who won a pop-up space at Union Market; 3-month product placement at Good Food Markets; and marketing and promotion via Think Local First DC and Cureate Connect for a month. This is further evidence that a food business can grow their own food, learn how to market, and sell it all in DC!


Think Local First DC has big things in store for 2019: the return of the Local First Awards, Builder Dinner, The Employer Advocate Quarterly Seminars, DCRA In Your Neighborhood, Workforce For All program,  along with many new partnerships and programs!

Thank you for your dedication in 2018. We look forward to working with all of you in 2019! We can’t do it without your help. Join in, say yes, and... contribute $20.19 today!


Upcoming events

The Unplugged Series: The Builder Dinner Hosted by Industrial Bank and curated by Think Local First DC happens Thursday, February 21, 2019, from 6 pm – 930 pm Confirmed Speakers: Howard Riker, Managing Director, Hines; Danielle Vogel, Founder, Glen’s; Monica Ray, ED, Congress Heights CTDC, Peter Nesbitt, ED, Washington Project for the Arts, Kristi Whitfield, Director, DC DSLBD and Lisa Wise, Co-Founder, Nest-DC.


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