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Some local leaders emphasize keeping it close to home, as far as shopping and what they do with their dollars.

Local business must flourish if Texarkana is to enjoy the maximum fruits of her labors.

"Shopping local is more than supporting a business. You are supporting a family, or in many cases, multiple families," said Natalie Haywood, director of events and communications for the Chamber of Commerce-Texarkana. "This is your community, the small business community.

"The Chamber is here to support business and this year, we have been focusing on small business," she said. "Using our resources, outlets and new initiatives, we work to bring attention to local businesses."

The Chamber seeks to connect businesses with each other and the community at large.

"That's one of the most important parts of what the Chamber does, is our networking efforts," she said. "Our ambassador program is a big part of this. They are the feet on the ground for the Chamber, getting the word out about new businesses in face-to-face interaction. They are a good group of people and I love working with them."

Another Texarkana resident also believes local is the way to go when shopping for Christmas or year-round items.

"I think it is vital to shop locally, to support our small merchants," said Ina McDowell, executive director for Main Street Texarkana, a civic organization dedicated to the reawakening of downtown Texarkana, the historic and cultural heart of the city.

"All of the Main Street community participates in encouraging shopping local, in supporting small business," she said. "Local business is vital for tax dollars. It is a civic duty to help ensure as many of our dollars stay local in supporting local shopping and business. It is important that we support our own."

Main Street Texarkana works with local businesses in opening downtown. They help guide, support and walk business people through the process of buying or leasing a downtown store front.

"That's the sort of support we offer to the local business community," said McDowell. "We have grants available for Arkansas properties and businesses. We also have low-interest revolving loan programs, design assistance for those who need help with the look of their buildings (pointers on painting, signage, providing renderings to illustrate design ideas."

Main Street Texarkana has a website, mainstreettexarkana.org. Through that outlet, you can contact Main Street Texarkana and check out the resources they offer a prospective business that would like to open doors downtown.

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