Last summer, the Macon County News teamed up with the grassroots movement "Venture Local Franklin" to highlight extraordinary locally owned businesses in Macon County. Venture Local Franklin (VLF) is geared toward promoting positive and sustainable community advancement. As a citizen-maintained movement, they value inclusivity and participation that is action-based and outcome- focused. The group works to collaboratively strengthen the local economy by utilizing the area's natural resources to establish common goals, nurture entrepreneurial ventures and drive innovation with the goal of moving Franklin forward.
Last summer Macon County News joined VLF in their mission to promote businesses in the community and wants to continue to share the stories of stores and their owners this year in Part II of the series.
"The MCN VLF series provided an incredible boost to local businesses in the Franklin area," said Matt Bateman of Venture Local Franklin. "If I had to pick a key element of success from the articles, I would undoubtedly say it was community awareness. A diverse selection of small businesses were highlighted, giving MCN readers a wonderful resource that was locally focused."
Each week the Macon County News will continue to dive into businesses from different industries to inform readers of what Franklin has to offer and to reiterate the importance of supporting the local economy in order to build a strong business community.
Last year MCN randomly selected some of the oldest and newest businesses in Macon County to tell their stories of operating in the region. From restaurants to retail shops to entertainment venues to manufacturing outlets, the Venture Local Series looks at how businesses came to be in Macon County and what they are doing to keep their doors open during tough economic times.
Last year's series featured businesses like Franklin Lanes, which has been open in the county for 34 years. Owned by Frank Myatt and run by manager Jim Crawford, Franklin Lanes has been a premiere destination for family entertainment for decades.
"We are just a great, fun safe option for family-friendly entertainment," said Crawford.
Complete with an 18-hole mini-golf course, pool tables, newly remodeled bowling lanes and an excellent snack bar, Franklin Lanes is a one-stop shop for great family entertainment this summer. "Although we have been open for 34 years, just two years ago we remodeled the building and now have brand-new synthetic lanes that really set us apart from other bowling alleys," said Crawford.
The bowling alley, which is open seven days a week, is also a great spot to hold parties. The center has a party room, great food options, and a full service bar. The bowling alley has great nightly summer options with a different bowling special for every night of the week.
Supporting local businesses like Franklin Lanes, that have continued to thrive in Macon County for decades despite a drastically changing economy is just one of the reasons VLF exists. In addition to supporting already operating businesses in the community, VLF's intent extends to building a conducive atmosphere that encourages businesses to locate to Franklin, which builds up the economy.
"VLF is gearing up for a busy summer season in Franklin," said Bateman. "We continue to be a driving force for locally owned businesses and the shop local movement. With the implementation of our new website (www.VentureLocalFranklin.com), users will be able to register and interact with our site from a social media aspect, as well as a private user aspect."
The community-driven group VLF continue to be the leaders in developing innovative ideas to strengthen support in the "shop local movement." Cash Mobs have become a fun way to support an array of local businesses, network, and support local charities all at the same time.
"As part of the driving force for locally owned businesses, VLF's "Cash Mob Franklin!" continues to pick up momentum moving into summer," said Bateman. "Cash mobs are an inclusive way for locals, and visitors alike, to have an immediate impact on our local business community, as well as the local economy as a whole. We have had eight cash mobs so far, and number eight was our biggest to date, with 50 total register transactions. A truly incredible initiative that is 100 percent grassroots, and being produced without funds/budget."
With much more to come, connect with VLF via Facebook (facebook. com/VentureLocalFranklin), Twitter (@VLFranklinNC), and online at www.venturelocalfranklin.com.
Next week will be the first installment of the Venture Local Series and will highlight locally owned restaurants in Macon County.