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Live Local Inland Northwest launches directory, online marketplace for area businesses

The Grain Shed’s Joel Williamson takes patron Elian Carbone’s order, silhouetted lower right, during a pickup for customers on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. The Grain Shed is among hundreds of local business participating in Live Local INW’s online marketplace and directory. (TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman-Review)

Live Local Inland Northwest is launching an online marketplace for Spokane-area businesses and organizations to showcase their products for free while providing them with an opportunity to reach a wider customer base.

The marketplace acts as a one-stop shop for businesses and organizations, which can showcase up to 10 items on the platform. Businesses are able to sell directly to customers on the marketplace or link to their own e-commerce website.

“We are calling it Spokane’s virtual Main Street,” said Janice Miller, communications director for Live Local INW, adding the marketplace gives each business a chance to have prime online storefront space while lifting each other up in the process.

More than 400 locally owned and operated businesses have signed up to participate in the online marketplace, which goes live Tuesday.

The Grain Shed co-owner and brewer Teddy Benson said he’s excited about the online marketplace.

The Perry District brewery, bakery and eatery is selling gift cards on the marketplace, with plans to eventually feature additional products, Benson said.

“This is a really neat opportunity for us just because we are a business that’s truly about serving our local community,” said Benson, who is also a Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance board member. “Almost all of the grain we use comes from local farmers we know directly. … With the Live Local campaign, it’s another great opportunity and way for us to be able to adapt even more to this ever-changing business market.”

In addition to the online marketplace, Live Local INW has created an online directory on which customers can search for local businesses by neighborhood, service category and business type, Miller said.

The Live Local Campaign also is offering free online business coaching courses through Thursday on a wide range of topics, including accounting, human resources, leadership and how to pivot marketing during a crisis.

The Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance, North Monroe Business District, Inland Northwest Business Alliance, Garland Business District, AHANA, South Perry Business and Neighborhood Association and Spokane Arts launched Live Local INW last month to promote buying local through events and education.

The Spokane City Council in September awarded Live Local INW $300,000 in CARES Act funding that was used to create the online local marketplace and business directory.

Live Local INW is celebrating its business directory and marketplace launch with an event 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday at Saranac Commons, 19 W. Main Ave. Live Local organizers will be on-site to answer questions and share information about the marketplace.

Washington state Director of Commerce Lisa Brown will be in attendance at the event, which will stream live on the Live Local INW Facebook page.