The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) is a non-profit organization helping communities launch and successfully operate an Independent Business Alliance® (IBA) or other pro-local business activities. This includes "buy independent, buy local" campaigns, advancing pro-local business policies, and other work to support local entrepreneurs and strengthen local economies. We are a network of, by, and for the community organizations and trade groups that comprise our membership. While most AMIBA affiliates are in the U.S., we are happy to help people in any interested community.
Independent Business Alliances are based on a model we pioneered in 1998. Since then, IBAs have formed in a diverse range of communities. They play a crucial role in creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs, building more self-reliant and durable communities, and empowering citizens to guide the development of their communities. These Alliances comprise a key component of the growing Localization Movement.
AMIBA exists to help local IBAs succeed through developing and sharing resources, advising them on operation and strategy and building a communication network to share ideas and best practices. We provide presentations and trainings for individual communities as well as trade shows and conferences to help organizations succeed and show individual businesses how to communicate pro-local messaging effectively.
We provide consulting services and produce custom materials for governments, independent trade associations, Main Street and downtown groups, selected local chambers and others. (See our merchandise page for materials ready to use without customization.) Our biennial Go Local, Grow Local conference enables business owners and leaders to learn from each other, develop large-scale collaboration and build a more cohesive Localization Movement across all business sectors.
In 1997 two Boulder, Colorado residents — David Bolduc of the Boulder Book Store and Jeff Milchen, now co-director of AMIBA, decided to counter the trend of absentee-owned companies and online mega-stores taking larger market shares at the expense of local business owners and community business districts. They gathered with other citizens and business owners to devise a proactive strategy for helping the community preserve its character and sustain local entrepreneurs. Just weeks later, the first Independent Business Alliance was born!
The initial sell was tough; being the first of its kind, the idea was untested. But once several of the community's landmark businesses were convinced to join, attracting others became easier. After two years the Boulder IBA had built a coalition of 150 businesses (including non-profits) and had succeeded in creating a culture of support for local independent business through public education, collaborative efforts among the coalition, and local advocacy work.
Being local became hip. Non-affiliated businesses and even franchises began using "local" as a marketing tool. The chain-owned daily newspaper touted a local business advertising page and routinely provided an independent business perspective in its articles. Conversation on the street regarding the importance of "going local" was overheard commonly, and discussion in the letters section of the newspaper became frequent.
After receiving dozens of inquiries from other communities about the IBA model in those first two years, Milchen and then-assistant director Jennifer Rockne determined the time had come to launch AMIBA to fulfill the growing demand for help.
AMIBA has grown steadily for more than a decade to become the "go-to source" for real perspectives of independent business, while offering unrivaled experience to help more than 85 IBAs, as well as dozens of other pro-local initiatives across North America. See the AMIBA team and the people and businesses that support our work.
AMIBA is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization. Donations are fully tax-deductible and comprise an essential portion of our funding, along with affiliation dues, speaking honoraria, sales of educational merchandise and other forms of earned income. See our IRS determination letter (pdf).
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