Love your local: Keep the heart of our community beating strong

Cristina Paredes

Tallahassee-Leon County has a special place in my heart. From the award-winning parks and outdoor adventures to the innovation that thrives from our world-class universities and research institutions, there are a lot of incredible and unique qualities that keep our community beating strong. But what I love most about this time of year is exploring the unique local businesses that help fuel our economic vitality. 

At the Office of Economic Vitality (OEV), the economic development agency for Tallahassee-Leon County, one of our priorities is supporting and celebrating local businesses, which is why we’ve created the Love Your Local initiative. Love Your Local shines a light on local companies in Tallahassee-Leon County and encourages residents and visitors alike to show love to our local businesses by supporting them. This year marks the fourth year that the Office of Economic Vitality intentionally celebrates local businesses, and each year, I discover a new retail business, restaurant, or experience.  

Nov. 27th marks Small Business Saturday. Held each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday serves as a springboard to the holiday shopping season for many small, local businesses. Make no mistake – shopping locally benefits our community year-round but there is no better time to choose local retailers first than the busiest holiday shopping weekend of the year. 

Our local businesses offer unique products and services that make them special, and beyond the products they provide, they continue to make great contributions to our community and local economy.  They are built, owned, and operated by your neighbors. So before you travel to a big-box store or shop with an online retailer outside of our community, join the movement to Love Your Local.

Here are six simple ways to Love Your Local this Small Business Saturday and all year long:

Travel outside your comfort zone to discover an out-of-the-ordinary, local, mom-and-pop shop. Experience the real Tallahassee-Leon County through our local businesses, which are an extension of our vibrant and charming community. 

Commit to making at least one purchase from a locally-owned retailer. For every one dollar spent in a local business, approximately 67 cents stay in the community. To view the extensive list of local, small businesses in our community, visit our local business directory at 

Get to know the owners and staff to make your experience more meaningful. After all, they are your neighbors.

Shop comfortably. Support local businesses from the comfort of your car or home with options, such as curbside pickup and delivery services. 

Purchase gift cards from local businesses in-store or online. They make great gifts to share with loved ones.

Amplify your support. Take part in Love Your Local on social media, using the hashtags #LoveYourLocal and #iHeartTally and tagging the Office of Economic Vitality (@OEVforBusiness). When you support a great small business retailer with unique products, share your find so others can enjoy it, too.

While many of us are making plans for our holiday shopping, let’s all make a conscious effort to visit and support local companies in Tallahassee-Leon County. Give a new, small business a chance, or visit one of your local favorites. So whether you’re shopping, dining, or creating new memories and experiences, be intentional and support our local businesses right here in Florida’s capital community. That’s the kind of thing that speaks volumes to businesses and our community. Learn more about Love Your Local and visit the online local business directory at 

Cristina Paredes brings over 15 years of local government experience, with the past seven years focused on growing the economy in Florida’s Capital Community, including her role as director of the Office of Economic Vitality. She earned a Bachelor and Master of Public Administration from Florida State University, was designated a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council, and is a nationally-recognized economic developer for her efforts in promoting economic vitality and inclusion in Tallahassee-Leon County. 

Cristina Paredes is Director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality.