Local First

Our Work & Mission

We know that for every $100 spent at a chain store, an average of $14 is reinvested in the community. For every $100 spent at a local store, an average of $45 is reinvested in the community.

That money maintains our schools, paves our roads, employs our friends and neighbors and makes Durham a wonderfully diverse and interesting place to live.

What We Do

  • Deliver resources, programming, networking, mentorship and more to local businesses of all shapes and sizes.
  • Educate the general public on why it’s important to choose local and influence them to do so.
  • Work with our elected officials, decision-makers and opinion leaders to foster a better environment for creating and sustaining local businesses.

We are supported 100% through donations and grants. Private donations are also a pivotal part of keeping our organization going. We’d be so grateful if you’d consider making a tax-deductible donation to our cause!



Sustain-a-bull’s PURPOSE is to provide a singular voice for locally-owned businesses and to foster a community which empowers them to well and good.

As a 501c3 non-profit organization, Sustain-a-bull is non-partisan and we do not endorse political candidates. Along with direct services and relationship-building, advocacy is a powerful component of our work to cultivate an economy anchored in local ownership. Our advocacy work combines awareness-building, public education, as well as direct and grassroots policy activism on local, state, and occasionally federal issues that impact our local business community. 

Advocacy Priorities

  • Increase public awareness of the benefits of local businesses through campaigns including Buy Local Month and Eat Local Month.
  • Promote a level playing field through economic development practices that support our homegrown businesses.
  • Strengthen ‘Local Preference’ policies to encourage municipalities and institutions to award contracts to local businesses 
  • Educate citizens, media, and policymakers on the civic, economic and environmental benefits of supporting locally-headquartered businesses.
  • Help businesses implement triple bottom line models of peopleplanet, and profit.
  • Address workforce hiring and retention issues through education on supportive worker policies and other ‘high road’ business best practices.
  • Encourage local developers to proactively incorporate space that is “right-sized” and affordable for local businesses in commercial development. 
  • Advocate for land-use planning, zoning, and policy to help local businesses thrive including: bike, transit, and pedestrian-oriented improvements; street and façade improvements; and affordable housing/commercial space.
  • Grow the presence of ‘Formula Business’ districts to ensure our communities are aesthetically unique and economically diverse, while preventing homogenization by chain businesses.

Our Team


Katelyn Belch

Katelyn Belch

Executive Director
Melanie Ray

Melanie Ray

Event Coordinator
Tony Belch

Tony Belch

Treasurer & Board Member



We’re always on the lookout for volunteers who can help with event coordination or office work (filing, mailing, phone calls, etc.). If you have the time, talents and passion, we’d love to hear from you!