An organization that supports locally owned and independent businesses in Portland has hired its first executive director.

Jenn Thompson will lead Portland Buy Local, first established 10 years ago.

Thompson first joined Portland Buy Local in April 2015 as the organization’s ambassador, and then became its program manager, according to a news release announcing the appointment. Before her work with Portland Buy Local, Thompson was program manager for the Portland Maine Farmers’ Market. A Maine native, she moved back to Portland two years ago after coordinating food security programs in southeastern Ohio.

Her experience working with farmers is what initially sparked her interest in helping business owners strengthen local economic systems.

“As Portland’s economy continues to grow, the connectedness of the local business community is more important now than ever,” Thompson said in the release. “Our local businesses are vital to the strength and character of Portland and play an important role in the future of our city.”

She intends to engage more members in the nonprofit’s programs, expand membership benefits and collaborate more with the city and other organizations.

Portland Buy Local has nearly 500 business, nonprofit and individual members.

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