Where we shop, where we eat, where we gather and have fun — all of it makes our community home. While Ahwatukee doesn’t have the traditional downtown brick and mortar setting, two years ago, the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce collaborated with the Ahwatukee Foothills News to create the “Main Street Ahwatukee” section.

The “Main Street Ahwatukee” program is an economic development initiative that seeks to strengthen local businesses, and educate the public about the importance of buying locally whenever possible. This virtual Main Street has helped connect the residents to our business community. As the chamber celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, I hope you will celebrate and support the businesses that help invigorate our community.

The Shop Local sentiment continues to be our focus year-round. We know many in our community already make it a habit to shop local first, knowing they can make a difference. Main Street has helped the community discover new and favorite neighborhood merchants. It’s helped the community to understand Ahwatukee in a more holistic and engaging way by capturing the life and energy of local businesses within these pages.

Area residents have the power to shape our community as consumers and make a difference. When you shop in Ahwatukee first, you are saying YES to a strong vibrant local economy. Many businesses in Ahwatukee are owned by people who live here, and are invested in the community’s future. Small businesses are the largest employer in our community and provide many jobs to Ahwatukee residents.

Shopping locally improves our community’s well-being, protects local character and prosperity. Local business ownership means decisions are being made by those who care about the community. They understand the importance of excellent customer service and build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.

Perhaps the best thing about buying local is that when you do, you build community. That’s the chamber’s tagline: Building Business, Building Community. So much of the experience of shopping local is the personal exchange that happens between you and your fellow community members. And in the process, you are helping the economy grow and creating a better community.

Locally owned businesses are located all over Ahwatukee and our neighboring communities. You can grab a bite to eat or shop for unique gifts and household items. You can get your hair cut, have your taxes prepared, or apply for a mortgage at your friendly community bank or credit union. These businesses add to the character that is Ahwatukee, contributing more than just goods and services. They offer personalized attention and add diversity to our shopping options.

Each time you choose to spend your dollars at a local business, you are supporting the continued strength and vitality of our community. Our goal for the Main Street Ahwatukee section is to provide that information so area residents can get to know our businesses and see that they are an integral part of the distinctive character of Ahwatukee.

The chamber’s online business directory at www.ahwatukeechamber.com can help you locate nearby businesses offering specific goods or services. Or stop by our office to pick up a copy of the Community Directory and Resource Guide.

• Anne Gill is president and chief executive officer of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at (480) 753-7676 or anne@ahwatukeechamber.com.

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