The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) is a non-profit organization helping communities launch and successfully operate an Independent Business Alliance® (IBA), "buy independent, buy local" campaigns, forward pro-local policies, and other initiatives to support local entrepreneurs and vibrant local economies. We are a network of, by, and for the community organizations and trade groups that comprise our membership. While AMIBA primarily serves U.S. communities, we are happy to help people wherever they reside.
These IBAs are based on a model we pioneered in 1998. Since then, IBAs have formed in a diverse range of communities and are playing a crucial role in keeping opportunities alive for entrepreneurs, building more self-reliant and durable communities, and engaging citizens in guiding their community's future. These Alliances already have inspired numerous similar organizations that comprise a key component of a growing Localization Movement.
AMIBA exists to help local IBAs succeed through networking them to share ideas, developing and sharing resources, and advising on operation and strategy. We provide presentations and trainings for individual communities as well as trade shows and conferences to help new Alliances launch or enable individual businesses to engage in effective public education work.
We provide consulting services and produce custom materials for municipal 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 larger-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, while opportunities diminished for local business owners. They gathered with other citizens and business owners to devise a proactive strategy for helping the community preserve its character and sustain local entrepreneurs. Weeks later, the first Independent Business Alliance was born.
The initial sell was tough; being the first of its kind, the idea was untested. Once several of the community's landmark businesses were aboard, attracting others became easier. After two years the Boulder IBA had a coalition of 150 community-based businesses and had succeeded in creating a culture of support for local independent business through public education, collaborative efforts among the coalition, and inserting itself into local policy discussion.
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 more than 100 inquiries about the IBA model from communities nationwide within 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 80 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 IRS determination letter (pdf). 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.
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