What is a Local Independent Business? (suggested definition)

When people are deciding which businesses should be recruited for membership in an Independent Business Alliance or participation in a Local First / Buy Local campaign, they often ask how to define a local and independent business. Local officials also seek criteria for wording policies to support local entrepreneurs in various forms. We offer this as a starting point for your local discussion.

  1. Private, worker, cooperative or community ownership;
  2. At least 50% of business is locally-owned. Your definition of the geographic area considered “local” should be a group decision based on multiple factors. We’ll gladly offer guidance upon request;
  3. Decision-making authority is vested in the local owners and not subject to conditions dictated remotely. Note that using this definition effectively excludes franchises. If this concerns anyone you work with, we invite you to contact us to discuss how to work effectively with local franchisees;
  4. The business has a limited number of outlets and geographic range. A single-digit number generally is recommended, but ask us about your situation. For example, in urban areas, community banks and credit unions may need many outlets to compete successfully.

This criteria appears in graphic form on our introduction to Independent Business Alliances. Please contact us with any questions regarding what definition will work best for your organization


Let patrons know you’re local and independent with this two-sided window cling and more pro-local outreach material.

Related Pages

Should Franchises or Buying Co-ops Be Part of “Buy Local” Initiatives?

Recommendations for Dealing with Franchises, Co-ops & Recruitment Grey Areas. This resource is accessible only to AMIBA affiliates. Log into Member Resources first or see) the benefits of AMIBA affiliation for your organization or community.

Top Reasons to Buy Local (with footnotes and linked sources).

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