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Mark Strella

Interview with the Project Coordinator at Stay Local!

Photographed by Cheryl Gerber

Did you know that, percentage-wise, New Orleans has more independent businesses than most American cities? From food to jewelry to music stores, New Orleans is filled with creative enterprises. With the help of Stay Local!, New Orleanians can locate nearby companies to meet almost every need.

Stay Local! was founded in 2003 to showcase New Orleans’ variety and multitude of independent businesses. Before Stay Local!, there was no network for these companies, so they could get lost amongst larger corporations.

Unlike national chains, independent businesses don’t have corporate headquarters directing their management. Furthermore, most don’t have deep pockets to advertise during the Super Bowl, for instance.

Stay Local! helps to strengthen these businesses by raising their visibility. Their website lists over 2,000 local businesses, and new ones are added all the time. Furthermore, Stay Local! introduces these companies to marketers and advertisers to bring in more customers.

National chains may be in demand, but having the same stores in every city can become uniform and bland. Of course, New Orleans doesn’t look like anywhere else – and local businesses are a big part of that.

What does Mark Strella find most rewarding about his work with Stay Local!? Helping the organization meet its goal. When businesses get more customers and residents find new companies, Strella and his colleagues are thrilled to see how their work contributes to the New Orleans economy.

Stay Local! hosts a number of events for the community, from lunches to workshops, designed to help local entrepreneurs learn business strategies. (Check the calendar on their website for more details.)

Furthermore, Stay Local! hosts a yearly event called “Urban Heroes” that recognizes people and enterprises who contribute to New Orleans’ distinctive community.

Stay Local! urges all New Orleanians to review their website, learn about local shops and use these resources to find local-certified businesses, and then share the message with friends and family. With almost 3,000 businesses on their website, and many print directories and neighborhood guides, Stay Local! has a listing to suit every taste.

For more information and to find your new favorite local business, visit Stay Local! at 4035 Washington Ave., call 252-1259 or visit StayLocal.org.


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