From baristas to members of the bar, attendees included everyone who makes a community work.
Patrick Kennedy From baristas to members of the bar, attendees included everyone who makes a community work.

With small-business owners feeling pinched on all sides, Patrick Kennedy, vice president of Superior Woodcraft, a custom cabinetry manufacturer in Doylestown, Pa., decided to go beyond the usual networking events. Kennedy, along with the Chamber of Commerce, arranged a “locavore event,” which has helped create strong local alliances with government entities and politicians.

The first event, held in February 2010, was so successful that the organizers decided to do it again in 2011 with an added agenda: Kennedy worked with the Doylestown Business Community Alliance, and — along with businesses providing local wine, beer, and food — invited politicians. More than 400 people attended the 2011 event, including a state senator, a state representative, and a district manager for a local congressman. “Attorneys, doctors, politicians, remodelers, tradesmen — everyone was there who’s needed to make a community work,” Kennedy says.

“It’s hard to describe the value this buzz has created,” Kennedy adds. But he believes the goodwill and branding has helped “seal the deal” on many of his sales. And other vendors and businesses have begun working together that hadn’t before.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.