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Amy Kedron: Local Business Booster

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Amy Kedron is executive director of Buffalo First, a young organization dedicated to preaching the gospel of supporting local, independently owned businesses. Buffalo First (, which has well over 200 members, educates and lobbies local consumers and policy makers as well as business owners on the economic benefits of local sourcing. This time of year, the group also produces a coupon book, which offers savings at local businesses throughout the region.

How does Buffalo First work? What are the means to creating “a more local, green and fair economy for all”?

We are living in crazy times: global economic crisis, no bailouts for Main Street, environmental distress, etc. Economics is at the heart of these issues and we need sustainable economic solutions that involve people, independent businesses, and policy makers in the process and the outcome. And to truly be effective, it must start at the local/community level. That’s what Buffalo First is all about.

How does this region do in terms of supporting its locals, both as individual consumers and business to business?

Sometimes it’s best to just be let alone. For decades big corporations (retail especially) ignored Buffalo because it wasn’t considered a lucrative market. They developed elsewhere and now those cities look like Anywhere, USA: cookie-cutter strip malls and cheaply built housing, no sense of place. This is one problem that Buffalo doesn’t have. Instead, we have charming, turn-of-the-century main streets, interesting neighborhoods; we have far more independent businesses than chains and because of that we still have a strong sense of community. We’re the City of Good Neighbors. So we are doing exceptionally well as a local economy and a local community, and this will play a major role in the city’s rebirth.

How did you come to this work? What’s your background?

I spent a lot of time immersing myself in academics looking for ways to change the world. (I have a law degree and I’m wrapping up a Ph.D.) I found that while the some of the world’s finest academics understand many of our most challenging problems, they fall short of implementing real grassroots solutions. So, Buffalo First is an exercise in praxis: employing good theory and committed action.

Where does a local booster like you go when you want to go on vacation?

Far, far away. It’s hard to have alone time in a city when all the business owners know your name. On vacation, I’ll be in an undisclosed sunny, sandy place sipping a local margarita.

Tell us about the coupon book. What’s in it? Is it out yet? Where can folks pick one up?

I’m convinced this coupon book can change the world, or at least make you look very cool for finding the perfect holiday gift. Books are $15 and there are well over $4,000 in savings everywhere, and hundreds of tips to help you create a stronger, healthier community. Local businesses and schools all over town sell them. For more information on where and when they will be available, go to This year’s book is full of photos of the city and truly has something for everyone. Small businesses that will bring us out of the recession and every coupon you redeem helps them do that.

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