By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Feb 12, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Today, Local First Milwaukee announced its new Grow Local Business initiative, which is an effort to shift local business spending back to Milwaukee. The campaign, which runs from February through April, will offer advice on how to boost the local economy by hiring talent as well as sourcing local business products.

"We are excited to focus on growing the local business to business economy," said Robert Wendt, president at Cultivate Communications and member of Local First Milwaukee. "This initiative should have significant impact on keeping business dollars in the Milwaukee area."

The three-month initiative, sponsored by Cultivate Communications, will revolve around the Grow Local Business Challenge, through which businesses will have the opportunity to win business products and services from Milwaukee vendors. Businesses can submit their plan to shift business dollars back to Milwaukee this year. Three random stories that are chosen will win $2,500 in advertising with, ecommerce and advertising from Okanjo and other prizes.

Besides the Grow Local Business Challenge, Local First will offer events, workshops and classes to help the growth of local businesses. The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation offers classes for current and future business owners and Retail Rally will be holding educational events around Milwaukee this spring.

"We’re just getting started," said Pam Mehnert, general manager at Outpost Foods, and board president of Local First Milwaukee. "We're poised to raise the bar and bring greater awareness of the real impact local businesses, local food, and local money can have in our communities. Watch for our Move Your Money, Eat Local and Shop Local initiatives, all rolling out this year."

To learn more about the Grow Local Business Initiative as well as the Grow Local Business Challenge, visit Local First Milwaukee’s official website.