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2017 Local First Awards Celebrate Entrepreneurs, Creators

On Thursday Nov. 9th, the inaugural Local First Awards were held at Blind Whino SW Arts Club (700 Delaware Ave. SW). This uniquely-DC celebration brought the city together in support of local businesses and creators. The Awards, a Think Local First DC (TLF) initiative, spotlighted the most impactful local independent businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists in DC.

A packed house watched the presentation of awards in seven categories, including: Maker, Ripple Effect, High Road, Green Thumb, Builder, Pioneer and Champion. A panel of distinguished leaders in the DC business community (including Hill Rag Editor Andrew Lightman) selected winners from a pool of 35 finalists.

The presentation concluded with an all-out dance party lasting well into the evening.

Winners in each category included:

  • Maker: Bailiwick Clothing — A local manufacturing business, entrepreneur or artist who designs, makes, produces, and/or assembles a product in the District of Columbia that makes an impact.
  • Ripple Effect: Paul Ruppert Restaurants and Upshur Street Books — A business that supports the local economy by purchasing supplies and services from other local businesses, creating a “ripple effect” as money circulates within the local community.
  • High Road: The Potter’s House — A model employer who puts their people first by providing quality jobs, fostering a positive work environment, and championing beneficial business practices.
Bailiwick Clothing DC accepts the DC Maker Award from Think First Local DC Board Members Morgan West and Justin Road.
  • Green Thumb: Misfit Juicery — An environmental champion who works to improve the local community through sustainable practices, products or services. This local business or individual significantly reduces waste or consumption, creates green products and/or provides green services.
  • Builder: City First Bank — A local community developer, investor, or lender with deep roots in the community and known for positive investments in DC’s people, culture, and future.
  • Pioneer: Tightshift Laboring Cooperative — A local business, entrepreneur, or artist who inspires with a creative new idea, product, perspective, model and/or solution.
  • Community Champion: Lee’s Flower and Card Shop — A local business owner who makes a significant and noticeable impact in the community across a range of categories.
The 2017 Local First Awards took place at The Blind Whino SW Arts Club (700 Delaware Ave. SW)Thursday Nov. 9th.
Paul Ruppert Restaurants and Upshur Street Books accept the Ripple Effect Award from Think Local First DC Board Members Michael Babin and Mari Rodela. Photo: E. O’Gorek

Tisha Lewis of Fox 5 kicked off the evening’s awards ceremony as the evening’s emcee, followed by Flash Speakers Gina Schaefer of A Few Cool Hardware Stores and Andy Shallal of Busboys and Poets. Shallal’s remarks focused intently on the diversity of the District and emphasized that this diversity was one of its business community’s biggest strengths.

“Despite the ups and downs, we keep doing this entrepreneurship thing to make a difference,” Shallal said.

DC Councilwomen Elissa Silverman then took the stage to emphasize the Council’s continued focus on business, pledging she would continue to work to make it easier to do business in and with the city.

Gina Schaefer, Founder, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, speaks at the DC Think Local First Awards. Photo: E. O’Gorek/CCN
Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys & Poets, tells the crowd that diversity, inclusion and the celebration of one another are all key to success.

Attendees enjoyed food and beverage provided by local favorites such as Cava, BBQ Bus, and Red Apron. After the ceremony concluded, attendees spread out through the venue to enjoy the afterparty featuring a Makers Market, Culinary Pop Ups and Beverages from DC Brau, Blue Jacket, Right Proper Brewing, and others. Artist Jesse White, known city wide for her avant-garde chalk art pieces, treated guests to an interactive chalk art installation throughout the evening.

Think Local First Board Member Nizam Ali of Ben’s Chilli Bowl described the night as “An evening where everyone was friends, everyone was talking, and open to communicate.”

Think Local First DC is a 501c3 non profit dedicated to supporting local independent businesses and the city’s next generation of entrepreneurs who create dynamic neighborhoods and make a positive impact in their communities.


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