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New chamber is just for local businesses by Tribune Staff 02.16.2012

RENO — The Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-Op & Green Business Chamber of Commerce is one of the first in the country to build a business directory offering a free listing to all locally owned businesses. More than 1,600 local businesses are listed and that continues to grow daily. The Local Business Co-Op was created to promote local business-to-business sales, and to educate consumers on how choosing local first when making purchases creates jobs and local economic recovery.

Starting in February, Executive Director Dave Asher and staff plan to visit every locally owned business in Reno and Sparks to offer a large “LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS” window poster to identify the business as the best place to shop. Owners will be asked how the co-op can help them increase sales and hire more employees, and be encouraged to support other locally owned businesses whenever possible. Weekly business-to-business networking with free social media workshops begin in February on Mondays from 5 to 7 p.m.

Businesses that join the co-op will receive a new website that lists their inventory or services, and if their online inventory includes locally made items, they will be listed in the national “Made in America” directory. Businesses who take the “Going Green” pledge will be included in a directory of the National Green Business Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact Dave Asher at 224-2242 or dave@livelocalrenosparks.com.

The Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-Op and Green Business Chamber of Commerce is located at 1301 Cordone Ave., Ll100, in Reno.
© dailysparkstribune.com 2012

No Simple Solutionby by Joshua H. Silavent 2.17.2012

SPARKS — President Barack Obama on Monday released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, which includes a number of tax reform measures aimed at generating new revenue and decreasing the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
The budget has almost no chance of passing so long as the House of Representatives remains under Republican control, but it does open a much-needed dialogue about simplifying the tax code. The primary aim of Obama’s proposal is to shun any talk of a flat tax and advocate for higher rates among the wealthy. For example, the budget proposes to tax dividends at ordinary income tax rates instead of the lower capital gains rate, which is set at 15 percent of earnings.
Moreover, the budget seeks to eliminate “inefficient and unfair tax breaks for millionaires while making all tax breaks at least as good for the middle class as for the wealthy.”
Obama also is pushing for an end to the Bush tax cuts and subsidies for oil companies, and wants to impose a “Buffett Rule,” named after wealthy financier Warren Buffett, which would ensure that millionaires pay at least as much in taxes as middle-class families.
“In the budget, I reiterate my opposition to permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year and my opposition to a more generous estate tax than we had in 2009 benefiting only the very largest estates,” Obama said in a statement. “These policies were unfair and unaffordable when they were passed, and they remain so today. I will push for their expiration in the coming year. I also propose to eliminate special tax breaks for oil and gas companies … And I support tax reform that observes the ‘Buffett Rule’ that no household making more than $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of its income taxes than middle-class families pay.” In order to dig deeper, to see what, if any, redeeming proposals exist in the president’s budget, the Sparks Tribune turned to three local business experts for their views on the matter.

Randi Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business
“Overall, the president’s proposals seem to further complicate an already complicated tax code. Many small-business owners file their taxes as an individual, so when (Obama) threatens to raise taxes on people making over $250,000, that catches many businesses that may bring in $250,000, but sure don’t make that much after expenses. “(Obama’s) proposal that ‘would reduce the value of itemized deductions and other tax preferences to 28 percent for married taxpayers filing a joint return with income over $250,000 (at 2009 levels) and single taxpayers with income over $200,000’ is not good for small business. It takes money to run a business. But not all the money that comes in is profit.
“And I agree with the sentiment that the ad hoc incentives for manufacturing are favoring one form of business over another. This approach to selective tax breaks is inconsistent with the goal of simplifying the tax system and making it neutral with respect to economic decision-making.”

Tray Abney, director of government relations for The Chamber
“I fail to understand how submitting a budget that increases the deficit will actually decrease the deficit in the long run. I fail to understand how increasing taxes on job providers will increase the ability of those job providers to, you know, provide jobs. I fail to understand how increasing taxes on oil and gas companies will make energy more affordable so that we can grow our economy.
“Instead of offering incentives for specific industries, why are we not simplifying the entire tax code and incentivizing job growth for every industry? This is just more of the same from a president who does not understand how the free enterprise system works.
“This budget is dead on arrival …”

Dave Asher, founder of the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-Op and Green Business Chamber of Commerce

“Overall, (the budget) appears to close loopholes and tax breaks for the very wealthy. I don’t oppose wealth … I do appose special treatment for the wealthy. I don’t feel they are the job creators. They are the ones that profit from reducing wages and sending jobs overseas.
“Small business is the job creator and the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits for the rest of 2012 benefits them.
“The budget would also provide tax incentives for manufacturers who create jobs in the United States and doubles the deduction for advanced manufacturing. It also ends tax deductions for shipping jobs overseas and establishes a Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit to encourage investment in communities affected by job losses. This is all good for business. Why in the heck is there a tax credit for shipping jobs overseas?
“So overall, closing tax loopholes for the 1 percent, giving credits to businesses that create jobs in manufacturing, spending on infrastructure and education, and removing subsidies for fossil fuel (producers) are all good things. Putting people to work rather than funding unemployment is very good. I am not in favor of more government and more taxes. I do favor government getting the job done that it is supposed to do and making it easier for the business sector to thrive and create jobs.”
© dailysparkstribune.com 2012

Shop local, revive the economy by Joshua H. Silavent 11.26.2011

RENO — Today is Small Business Saturday, a national campaign encouraging consumers to shop at locally owned businesses. It comes in response to Black Friday, a profitable day for corporate retailers and chain outlets, often at the expense of local, independent stores. You might have seen television advertisements promoting Small Business Saturday. But American Express – that is, corporate America – strangely, and cynically, sponsors those spots.

So in order to really focus on local businesses, I turned to Dave Asher, founder of the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op and an advocate for ‘buy local’ campaigns.
Asher wants consumers in the Truckee Meadows to adjust their spending habits to the local market as a way to help improve the northern Nevada economy.
If residents shift just 10 percent of their spending from chain stores or out-of-state markets to local businesses, Asher said, the region could retain upward of $350 million in revenue. That money, he said, circulates through the economy and supports schools, infrastructure projects, police departments and parks, among other things, all without any tax increases.
Asher and I visited two of his favorite Reno haunts on Friday to learn more about how local businesses operate and why it’s important to support them – not just today, but every day of the year.
The Hub Coffee Co. 32 Cheney St. 323-3482 thehubcoffeeco.blogspot.com
Chris Bonde and Anna Sofie greeted us with espresso shots and free-pour cappuccinos when we entered this coffee house that is built into a repurposed residential garage in midtown Reno. You can think of these two baristas as artists in the crafting of good coffee, much like a brewmaster or winemaker.
“They know what they’re doing,” Asher said, adding that locally owned businesses often provide customers with a level of expertise not evident when shopping at big box stores. Moreover, local businesses are anything but generic, which means you often get an unparalleled experience and quality when shopping with independent coffee houses, bookstores or restaurants. It also doesn’t hurt that people like Bonde and Sofie truly love what they do. Can the same be said for those working at Starbuck’s after school?
Bondie and Sofie get creative with their work, trying out new ingredients and styles to deliver top quality coffee.
Importantly, The Hub supports other local businesses. So while they aren’t shy about getting their coffee beans from places as far flung as Brazil and Ethiopia, Bonde and Sofie point out that their pastries are purchased at the 5th Street Bakehouse in Reno.
The baristas also like to keep things in-house. For example, they make a chocolate syrup onsite that is dark, rich and flavorful. One of the best things about locally owned coffee houses is the unique atmosphere you find at each, Asher said. Inside The Hub you will see a bookshelf, vinyl record player and young professionals opening their laptop and connecting to the free Wi-fi available. And outside is a patio area perfect for relaxing on a mild, sunny November day.
The Hub offers gift cards in any amount for the coffee lover in your family.

Sundance Books and Music 121 California Ave. 786-1188 www.sundancebookstore.com

Now in its 26th year, Sundance Books and Music recently moved into an old colonial-style home in downtown Reno.
Co-founder Dan Earl said there are many challenges local bookstores have to navigate in order to survive, particularly given the ascendance of big box retailers like Barnes & Noble and online carriers such as Amazon.com.
So how does Earl do it? By providing eclectic titles and a Nevada book room replete with local author selections, which are harder to come by at corporate outlets. In addition, Sundance hosts book signings with both nationally recognized authors and local writers.
“We’ve always thought it was important to shop locally,” Earl said, adding that doing so keeps more money circulating through the community, money that supports job growth and government services.
Of course, part of the draw for Sundance is its unique atmosphere. When you step inside the 105-year-old home that serves as the bookstore’s residence, you feel like you’ve entered an artistic haven. In addition to books, Sundance sells classic music albums, handcrafted soaps and greeting cards from local artists and even incense. The temptation to sit on the couch in the Nevada book room, open a novel, newspaper or magazine, and spend a few hours relaxing is hard to ignore.
“One of the reasons you choose local is because of the non-cookie-cutter personality you get,” Asher said.

To learn more about the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op and how you can support local businesses, visit www.livelocalrenosparks.com.

The Green Chamber by Joshua H. Silavent 10.27.11

RENO — Dave Asher is at it again.

The man who single-handedly created the region’s first “buy local” initiative, LiveLocal RenoSparks, continues to expand services and opportunities for local business owners and entrepreneurs.

After launching the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op in April, Asher began looking at ways to promote businesses that are eco-conscious, practice environmental conservation and promote social responsibility in the workplace.

Now, Asher is connecting co-op members with the Green Business Chamber of Commerce, a cooperative service between chambers of commerce across the country that promotes green businesses.

Members who take the green pledge receive a certificate, a “Going Green” logo on their business listing at www.livelocalrenosparks.com that allows consumers to access a splash page for each business to see just what is being done to help the environment, as well as a listing and link to their website at the Green Business Chamber of Commerce website, www.greenbusinesschamber.com.

For example, Linda Gordon, owner of Reno Healing Massage, lists her commitments to going green, which includes recycling, conserving energy and growing organic food.

“I was green before the pledge,” Gordon said, adding that she hopes to be at the fore of bringing an eco-conscious ethic to the local community.

The pledge requires a few simple, but important, commitments: comply with all business regulations; conserve energy and other valuable resources; implement procedures to reduce pollution and waste; and be environmentally and socially responsible.

“We didn’t make it too hardcore that it would be exclusive,” Asher said.

Asher himself has taken the pledge, setting up recycle bins at the local business co-op on Cordone Avenue and using motion sensor lights to conserve energy, among other things.

Though the pledge only requires small commitments, they can add up to big results, Asher said.

“We’re making sure it’s not green washing,” he added.

Of the 60 paid members at the local co-op, only six have taken the pledge so far. But Asher believes the idea will gain momentum and he expects that number to grow ten-fold in the coming year.

“It proves they are involved in the community,” Asher said of the green pledge.
© dailysparkstribune.com 2011

Encouraging business, to buy locally

A year-old campaign that encourages consumers to buy from locally owned companies now is widening its reach to include business-to-business transactions.

LiveLocalRenoSparks.com plans to provide a badge that locally owned B2B companies can display in their business windows and on their Web sites. The group also hopes to create a lead-generation network of 100 to 200 businesses, says Dave Asher, founder of the nonprofit headquartered in Reno.

The shop-local B2B campaign is an initiative of the Regional Jobs Team organized by the Washoe County government.

LiveLocalRenoSparks.com maintains an on-line directory of locally owned businesses, and Asher said the lead-generation network would be online as well.

The nonprofit has estimated that a 10 percent shift in buying from non-local to local businesses in the Reno-Sparks would generate an additional $350 million in annual sales for locally owned businesses.

Truckee Meadows Tomorrow announces second quarter Silver Stars

Economic vitality—Dave Asher for launching www.LiveLocalRenoSparks.com to amplify the value of local businesses and nonprofits through efforts to generate positive net revenue that stays in the region, such as new business-to-business alliances and the “10%in2010” campaign to shift 10% of non-local spending, or $350M in sales revenues to locally-owned independent businesses generating millions of dollars in local wages that stimulate our economy.

Local co-op gives startups a place to roost

RENO — It seems that Dave Asher has begun to corner the market on hyper-local business advocacy.

In just more than a year, he has established and expanded his “buy local” initiative, LiveLocal RenoSparks, and created a free online directory for locally owned small businesses. In recent months he developed a 10 percent shift campaign to encourage northern Nevada consumers to spend more of their money at home in order to reap the benefits of increased tax revenue. He has shopped his ideas to municipal and county governments, on radio, television and in newspapers, and has been at the fore of promoting state legislation that would give local businesses preference in public bidding contracts. And this week, Asher unveiled his latest creation: a business cooperative that gives local entrepreneurs a leg up in building a startup.
“We’re going to teach people how to become entrepreneurs and help turn our economy around,” Asher said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday for the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op.
For an annual $200 membership fee, Asher provides office space, website development and consultation and training services to entrepreneurs hoping to break through with a business idea that often times begins as little more than a lifelong passion. For example, office space in a building located at the corner of Vassar Street and Cordone Avenue in Reno is now home to a radio show and, soon, a traffic safety school. Eddie Floyd, long-time host of the public affairs program “Nevada Matters,” has been given studio space at the co-op to conduct interviews with budding local entrepreneurs, which will then be aired on a variety of AM and FM stations. Stephen Shaw, a semi-retired motorcycle enthusiast, said he decided to develop a defensive driving training program because others didn’t put people in real-life, on-the-road situations. It’s not enough to have trainees circle through orange cones and make a complete stop in order to get certified, he said. Shaw will begin holding courses at the business co-op offices later this month. He believes the space offers the right kind of support system and networking opportunities to make his American Traffic School of Nevada a success. “It provides everything you could possibly need,” he said, describing the co-op as an incubator for startups.
And that’s Asher’s intention. “This is a place where they’re entrepreneurial dreams can come true,” he said.

Asher hopes the launch of his business co-op will trigger the opening of a cluster of collectives throughout Reno and Sparks. He hopes a co-op focused on the renewable energy industry will soon complement his entrepreneurial-based platform. “This is just like a chamber of commerce, but for only locally owned businesses,” he said.

'Buy local' advocate Dave Asher opens doors to Co-Op

By Sue Voules 3/1/2011
Dave Asher stands in the building that houses his new business venture called Vassar Cordone Non Profit & Local Business Co-op. (RGJ)
With keys in hand to newly renovated offices at the Vassar-Cordone building, Dave Asher launches a new enterprise today -- with big plans to help start dozens of local businesses. "I'm hoping a lot of dreams will be made in this building," Asher said, of the co-op for new entrepreneurs. It builds on a business he started 11 months ago that provides a free online listing for 2,800 locally owned businesses. With Washoe County unemployment at nearly 14 percent, "it's all about creating jobs and turning our economy around," Asher said. For now, the Vassar Cordone Non Profit & Local Business Co-Op, 1301 Cordone Ave., is nearly empty. In the building's great room, he is planning to put in a coffee bar, 14 desks and seven sets of chairs and couches in the middle where aspiring entrepreneurs can connect and hold meetings. In time, he said he hopes it will be known as "just the Co-op." AMH Properties and owns several other local offices, is a believer. To jump-start the project, it has discounted the rent for 1,400 square feet of office space. That rent will rise as the co-op adds tenants. At maximum capacity, Asher said the center can provide for 50 aspiring entrepreneurs at a time. To get in the door: Asher is charging $50 a month rent and a $200 annual fee for becoming a member of his Local Business Co-Op, which builds and maintains local businesses' websites. For that, tenants have use of the great room, free WiFi provided by Great Basin Internet and free coffee. For $100 a month, tenants can share desk space and gain access to several board rooms. For $200, tenants get their own desks, access to board rooms and a conference room. And he said everyone gets a commercial address to put on their business listings and receive mail. With smart phones and laptops, the 54-year-old said he believes small-business owners today can carry everything they need in a briefcase. He also will have several computers in the building, so clients can use flash drives if they like. Then, there's the knowledge factor. Asher's first tenant is C.W. "Al" Allen, founder of Sage International, which is known for incorporating businesses and tax reduction strategies. Allen, the author of "Incorporate and Grow Rich," has come out of retirement in Reno to assist young entrepreneurs and hold business-related classes and workshops in the large conference room. "We can do it," Allen said. "What (Asher) is doing is great. With what's going on in the marketplace and country today, this is probably the best way. It's a lot less expensive than setting up an office." And with Reno's flat economy, "we need all the help we can get here," he said. Asher also has asked ProNet, an association of experienced business executives looking for work, to volunteer. He also is working with C4Cube, which connects successful start-ups with venture capital. Asher has connected with the Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, campus, and he is the small-business committee chairman for the Regional Jobs Team, a group started by Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung and supported by the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Expected tenants include those wanting to start restaurant, retail and service businesses, as well as those interested in small-scale manufacturing. Asher, a third-generation Nevadan and Hug High graduate, operates the local chapter of the Business Alliance for Local Living, a national group dedicated to buying local. As a member, he has access to large amounts of information, including a leakage calculator for Washoe County. For instance, the region has no large chicken farmers to supply Washoe County residents with 11 million chickens, as well as eggs consumed each year. "If we raised 11 million chickens, we would have jobs and all that money would not leave the area," he said. About $350 million would stay in the local economy if residents spent 10 percent of their purchases with locally owned businesses, Asher said.

Co-Op founded for startup businesses NNBW staff, 2/21/2011

Dave Asher, executive director of LiveLocal Reno-Sparks, has founded a local business incubator designed to promote local business-to-business interaction and to help foster entrepreneurs. Asher’s local business co-op has leased 1,000 square feet at Vassar Street and Cordone Avenue from AMH Properties and will begin accepting tenants March 1. The goal is to create a co-working environment for smaller Truckee Meadows businesses, Asher says. “It is designed for home-based business to come in and co-work, or for larger brick-and-mortars to downsize and share office space,” he says. Monthly rents at the Vassar Cordone co-op range from $50 to $200 per month, Asher says, and includes access to meeting and boardroom space, as well as WiFi, computers and desks. “The co-working environment will be a think tank for entrepreneurs,” he says. “We will hook them up with a series of classes to get them open and get them going.”