Strengthening Independent Business, Empowering Citizens, Refocusing Government
Strengthening Independent Business Resident-owned businesses have greater opportunity to start and thrive within a culture of collaboration and strong community support. AMIBA helps communities organize to build a culture of support for local entrepreneurs that yields broad prosperity and expands opportunity. In addition to Independent Business Alliances® formed explicitly for the purpose, we help local chambers, downtown organizations and others achieve these goals by serving as a communication hub, mentoring and support center. (See the diverse range of communities affiliated with AMIBA).
AMIBA is building a strong, uncompromised voice representing independent business in the media and public to shift corporate-created paradigms. We cultivate collaborative relationships with NGOs and independent trade associations to build the Localization Movement, share its language, and shift policy and practice while uniting IBAs across communities to provide education and action. Empowering Citizens AMIBA informs people of the power their spending decisions have in shaping their communities as well as the need to act as citizens to impact public policy and procedure. Informed citizens are more likely to engage as stewards of their communities and the businesses owned by their neighbors. We provide extensive tools and guidance to help people drive local cultural shifts.
Refocusing Government When governments make resident-owned businesses the keystone of economic development, they can create an environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and build greater opportunity for all. Community-level action can reshape thinking and policy locally as we work with allies to network these efforts and drive broader systemic change. AMIBA built local advocacy into the Independent Business Alliance model, and it’s a core element of the new Grow with AMIBA program. Imagine the broad potential when hundreds of pro-local groups work with local government to enact positive, replicable policy and practice! Ultimately, we will build a pro-community, pro-equity, pro-entrepreneur counter-force to bastions like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that push for greater corporate power and monopolization. We will partner with allies to turn political platitudes of supporting small business into reality.
AMIBA – led Initiatives
In addition to supporting grassroots organizations, AMIBA directly leads initiatives like these: Fulfilling Local Needs Through Community Ownership Too many people are unable to buy fresh groceries or basic household needs without burdensome travel. Many communities are wholly dependent on absentee-owned corporations for their media, broadband and other essential services. The forthcoming Center for Community Ownership will help people incubate, nurture and network community-owned businesses to fill local needs and empower residents.
Building a Business Voice for Inclusion and Equity Our Business Against Bigotry initiative engages business owners and citizens not just to counter words and deeds that victimize and oppress, but to become leaders in building more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming communities. Speakers Bureau We are expanding our offering of Movement thought leaders with expertise in advocacy, board development, “buy local” campaigns, economic justice, local food systems, grassroots marketing, antitrust policy and more. Whether you’re seeking a speaker for a trade show or a community event, we likely have great options for the topics you seek to address.
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. Culture and habits were shifted. 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 helped more than one hundred communities launch pro-local initiatives across North America. 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.
AMIBA Policies and Documents:
- IRS determination letter (pdf)
- AMIBA’s Commitment to Inclusion and Nondiscrimination
- Conflict of Interest Policy
- Record Retention and Access Policy
- Whistleblower Protection Policy
- Equal Opportunity Employment Policy