Becoming a ‘Locavorian’ Business Owner

May 20, 2022 | Bank Iowa


Springtime in Iowa. The sun is out; the rain is too. And the friendly roar of neighborhood lawnmowers is back in full effect.  

Most importantly, Iowa farmers have planted their crops. While those crops do indeed feed the world, Iowans also feed each other with some pretty spectacular and delicious fruits and vegetables. We find them at local farmers markets, grocery produce sections and those roadside stands Iowans can’t help but pull over for.  

That desire to buy local isn’t unique to Iowans. The already growing trend of sourcing nearby businesses and hobbyists for everything from food to professional services was buoyed by COVID lockdowns and supply chain issues. The trend is even spinning up new nomenclature, such as “locavore,” a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

If you’ve never heard the term, you’re not alone. It was new to us a few months back when we polled our readers. While 40 percent had never heard it before, those that did had a strong outlook on its potential. Of those familiar with the term, half thought locavores were somewhat to absolutely good for their businesses. Another 20 percent believed these individuals will be good for their businesses in the future.

So, when will Iowa businesses see the fruits of the reenergized buy-local trend? Good question, and one we don’t have a definitive answer on. But, as a family-owned, local community bank, we are just curious to know as our business and farm client base.

Because we have a vested interest in making sure Iowa communities thrive while sustaining and enhancing their ways of life, we did some investigating of our own. In a research study we conducted last fall, 900 Iowans shared their throughs with us. The majority (54%) said economic development was the most important community issue facing their geographic area. Education at 22% and health care at 11% finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Against this backdrop, how can Iowa businesses tap into the buy-local and locavore trends? Here are some questions to ponder as you consider the possibilities:

Does your business feel local?
It’s one thing to be a small restaurant in a small town with no franchise affiliation. It’s quite another to be a global manufacturer. However, both can leverage the power of story telling to make their business feel as local as it is. Maybe it’s how the company sources materials from other Iowa businesses; maybe it’s a tale of community job creation. The idea is to generate power for the idea that your business helps maintain the essence of small-town life even as it grows.  

Are you family owned?
If you are, why wouldn’t you tell people that? Family-owned businesses spark nostalgia, cultivate homegrown values and remind Iowans why this place many have called home for generation remains special. Inclusion can—and should—dovetail the foundational story you tell. Showcase how family roots have sprouted into a diverse and welcoming family tree of employees and customers, each helping to write the business’s next chapter.

Are you the answer to the economic development demand in your community?
Does what you do, by sourcing locally, by employing locally, help the community thrive, sustain and enhance your way of life? You bet it does. But don’t stop at the status quo. Each of us and every Iowa business can always do better. Are there goods or services you’ve always looked for outside the state or your community? Take a second look. Entrepreneurship in marginalized communities is at an all-time high. That input, ingredient, service or salesperson you need to sustain your business may actually be right in your backyard.

If Bank Iowa’s team can help you research new, “locavorian” ways to tackle financial growth, give us a shout. One of our highest values is to enable great things, and connecting Iowans to one another is our favorite way to make that happen.