A contingent from Independent We Stand, a Virginia-based small-business advocacy organization, visited Twin Cities small businesses Sunday and Monday as part of a 1,400-mile journey along the Mississippi River and to promote an online contest sponsored by Stihl Inc., the power tool manufacturer.
“The goal of this [five-state] trip is for Independent We Stand to promote the unique experiences and the economic impact of America’s Main Streets on local communities,” said Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand. “Our theme this year is ‘Local Memories. Lasting Impact.’ which we see exhibited year after year as we travel the country visiting unique Main Streets. It’s driven by consumers who support them through the buy local movement.”
The Twin Cities businesses included Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, Jerry's Do it Best, Hirschfields, NorthEast Investment Cooperative, Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Aki’s Bread Haus.
Through April 22, consumers and small business owners can go online to www.mainstreetcontest.com to vote for their favorite Main Streets. A second round of voting for the 25 semifinalists runs from April 30 through May 27. The announcement of the winner comes on June 4, followed by a “Main Streets Make Us Better” event on the Fourth of July to unveil the use of the $25,000 grand prize.
Independent We Stand says independent retailers return more than three-times as much money per dollar of sales to the community as chain competitors; small businesses donate twice as much to local charities as large businesses and home values increase by an average of 50 percent in neighborhoods served by successful independent retail districts.

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