Hooray for Local Seattle Businesses!

1 04 2010

It’s well known that I’m a big advocate for small businesses. And today I’m even more excited about supporting the Seattle business community.

After the demise of Washington Mutual in 2008, Seattle lost the eight year sponsor of its 4th of July fireworks show drawing tens of thousands of people to the shores of Lake Union. Chase, which absorbed Washington Mutual, agreed to sponsor the show last year, but not again. (Ivar’s also pulled the plug on its annual “4th of Jul-Ivar’s” show last year after 44 years.) So when One Reel, the nonprofit that organizes the show, announced this week that it was not able to secure a corporate sponsor for the annual fireworks show this year – Seattle restaurateur and chef Tom Douglas pledged $5,000 to keep the show going and challenged other Seattle business leaders to do the same. Talk about a community effort – sidelining several other donors, Microsoft and Starbucks each doled out $125,000.

And the donations keep rolling in. Check out which Seattle businesses are pledging to save the show this year; the list is impressive and continually growing.

I first learned of Tom’s 4th of July donation efforts through his restaurant’s Twitter account. But it’s not unknown that Tom is acutely interested in developing a supportive business community – particularly a supportive food community. Whether you liken it as Tom Douglas University or the Tom Douglas Universe, as mapped out in the April 2010 issue of Seattle Magazine, think of the velocity effect of his ambition. With five restaurants, a bakery, a catering business, a radio show, a line of spice rubs, and a kitchen tool line on Amazon, he’s developed quite a business – and he’s opening two more restaurants!

It’s understandable that when money is tight, companies may choose to donate funds toward partnerships held in a different regard, and with less liability. But after an almost half a century long community tradition, it’s hard to muster the thought of not having a fireworks show in Seattle on the 4th of July. A community campaign seems fitting.

Cheers to Tom Douglas. And cheers to all the area businesses that are donating to support Seattle’s 4th of July fireworks show over Lake Union. Buying local can surely have an explosive effect – I’ll see you underneath the fireworks in a few months.

…If you’d like to make an individual donation, click here.

Photo courtesy of Jenine Anderson.

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