• Newport officials implore shoppers to stay local this season. Why it helps the economy

    Newport officials implore shoppers to stay local this season. Why it helps the economy
    Jeffrey D. Wagner 
    Special to The Newport Daily News

    NEWPORT – Holding a 4-month-old, business owner Basil Yu still managed to wow a group of local authorities and business owners with his noodle-making room at his restaurant, Yagi Noodles Ramen and Boba. 

    Yu impressed and possibly won over some more clients – and only a portion of it was connected to him holding his beautiful baby daughter Remi. 

    Yu mentioned that his ramen, unlike store-bought, comes from locally grown wheat. 

    This was one of many nods to local businesses at the annual Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce Holidays by the Sea annual kickoff. 

    Yagi Noodles Ramen and Boba owner Basil Yu and his daughter Remi show local officials and members of the Newport Chamber of Commerce his special noodle room where he turns locally grown wheat into noodles.
    Down the street, the General Store, which still relies mostly on word-of-mouth advertising, managed to impress the group with its collection of holiday gnomes and other trinkets.  

    Mark Hayward, R.I. district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, ran up to the counter with one, expressing his amazement. He offered up a new Christmas tradition for families – gnome on the shelf.  

    These moments on Monday were part of an approximately 10-year-old tradition initiated by the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce. The group kicks off the holiday season with a small community gathering on the Monday before Thanksgiving. The event culminates with a stroll along Long Wharf Mall to visit local businesses. 

    “It’s the official kickoff to the season,” said Chamber spokeswoman Kate Grotteberg. “It’s our initial announcement to get people to shop locally and dine locally.”  

    The purpose is to promote Newport as a fun and exciting place all year and not just during the summer. 

    “It’s an amazing community of locals,” Chamber President Erin Donovan-Doyle said. 

    Evan Hayward, RI district director of the United States Small Business Administration urges attendees to buy local at the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce's Shop Local kickoff event.

    In connection with that camaraderie among locals and city authorities, parking this holiday season in Newport will be free and Mayor Xay Khamsyvoravong, one of the speakers at Monday’s event, named this upcoming Saturday “Small Business Saturday” in Newport. 

    Khamsyvoravong and other speakers met at Mother Pizzeria, which recently opened in the space formerly occupied by Panera and touted by officials as a great restaurant to visit.

    “There are few places as iconic as colonial New England or Newport when it comes to the holidays,” Khamsyvoravong said. He added that the window decorations at most of the local businesses help bring the holiday season alive. 

    “All of these businesses contribute to our tax base and that is something residents need to be aware of,” said City Council Vice Chair Lynn Underwood Ceglie.

    Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, an at-large city councilor, said the city’s uniqueness is its most impressive quality. 

    “I encourage you to do all your shopping for Christmas in Newport,” she said. “It’s really a thrill and there are other activities around.” 

    Hayward said it is always the small businesses that sponsor youth sports and keep the community moving. He also encouraged attendees to help out non-profit organizations when possible. 

    "Shop small, dine small. It really is about small business,” Hayward said.   

    State Rep. Marvin Abney addresses a crowd at the Great Newport Chamber of Commerce's Shop Local kickoff event.

    State Rep. Marvin Abney gave credit to the chamber of commerce. Citing trips overseas for financial management seminars, he said local commerce groups help communities stay financially afloat. 

     “We can’t run at deficit. … Places like the chamber of commerce and businesses help us with the tax base so we don’t have to go through the roof to make it happen,” he said.

    State Rep. Terri Cortvriend asked locals to take things a step further by visiting Portsmouth and Middletown, which are part of Aquidneck Island and have their own charm.

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