Portland Buy Local hires new 'ambassador'

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PORTLAND — Portland Buy Local has a new employee, who also happens to be its only employee.

Brett Wagenheim has been hired as the new, part-time ambassador for the campaign.

She said she was attracted to the organization because its mission was close to her heart: she grew up in her parents’ store in Vermont, and saw the challenges small businesses face in the era of Internet sales and global chains.

“Portland Buy Local supports small businesses and helps preserve the small business community,” Wagenheim said. “The value of small businesses in Portland maintains the individuality of our city. I’m just excited to help support Portland Buy Local and the small businesses that make our city what we love.

According to the organization’s president, Tony Cox, the ambassador is the face of the campaign. He said Wagenheim is the third ambassador Portland Buy Local has had. He said Wagenheim was hired for her track record of working independently. 

“Their main goal is to be the face of Portland Buy Local, go out and support the local businesses that make our town so vibrant and independent,” Cox said. “So they support them by helping promote the uniqueness of their businesses.”

Wagenheim said that ambassadors promote small businesses through the Portland Buy Local website, through a business directory available both online and in print, and through events that celebrate small businesses.

Cox said the other things the ambassador will do to spread the message and support their membership is attend local government meetings and report back to constituents on the issues. 

Wagenheim, 28, attended Colby College in Waterville. She worked for a nonprofit organization in California before moving to Portland. 

Portland Buy Local is a campaign of the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance. It began in 2006, and over 475 members have joined the campaign. Around 25 are individuals, and about 450 are businesses.

Wagenheim said working with Portland Buy Local board of directors is a collaborative effort. She said a lot of agenda topics come from the board, but she can also initiate projects herself and bring them to the board to get assistance.

One specific project Wagenheim will be working on is organizing the Indie Biz Awards, which is a “Best of Portland” list with 11 categories, for Oct. 22. 

“There’s a lot of projects we’re working on that are on going throughout the year,” Wagenheim said. “But they all have the same mission, to promote small businesses in Portland.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Brett Wagenheim of Portland is the new ambassador for Portland Buy Local.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]