Empowering Communities is the Answer

Empowering Communities is the Answer

These days, it’s easy to focus on the problems in our communities and our country to the detriment of proactive work. But particularly in times of turmoil, empowering communities is crucial. And AMIBA has been committed to doing that since Day 1.

In our core program, we’ve helped more than 100 cities and towns form Independent Business Alliances (IBAs) to empower them and lessen dependence on distant corporations and governments. These groups are helping a diverse array of local entrepreneurs thrive by educating, collaborating and advocating—a proven recipe that’s giving entrepreneurs in communities with an IBA a big advantage over those without one.

Along with the steady progress of core work — empowering and engaging one community at a time, here’s exciting news about some game-changing new initiatives we’re undertaking in 2018:

Providing Vital Infrastructure for Local Organizations
We’re addressing a long-standing need for community organizations by designing a fully-integrated database and website template that will be transformative for local groups. They’ll shift the huge amounts of time currently spent managing separate databases, websites, invoicing and other operations to advance their mission and build effectiveness and efficiency.

Nurturing successful movements requires developing strong organizations built on durable and efficient systems. Your donation will help bring this transformative tool to community alliances by the end of February!

Diversifying the Localization Movement
We made significant inroads on this important priority in 2017, and can report greater diversity within both AMIBA’s leadership and among the leaders of Independent Business Alliances. Elemental to this progress: our volunteer Diversifying the Movement working group of local Alliance leaders and our Business Against Bigotry campaign launched in 2017. We activated a national pro-small business voice to counter escalating hate incidents and inspire business owners to help lead the way in creating safe, welcoming communities that believe diversity is an asset.

We’ve distributed more than 8,000 free “We Welcome Everybody” decals (get yours here), hosted community trainings, published commentaries debunking myths used to provoke hatred, and more. In January, we’ll release a series of print and radio ads conveying the huge economic benefits that diversity brings our communities and debunking dangerous stereotypes. Your gift will make localizing and sharing them effectively with grassroots groups around the country possible.

Just last month, we partnered on a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado case, inserting a crucial small business voice for defending public accommodation laws that endanger civil rights and the livelihoods of independent business owners. See our nationally-published commentary.

Push for vigorous enforcement of antitrust law and tax fairness (and adapt laws addressing the threat of platform monopolies like Amazon, Google and Facebook). Debate over monopolies rose to the highest level in decades this year. We’re helping keep that trend going. And we’re working to ensure talk leads to concrete action to stop destructive monopolization of many sectors, which particularly harms independent businesses, consumers and communities.

A Bold New Program for 2018: The Center for Community Ownership
As growing numbers of communities in recent years, particularly rural ones, have watched as giant “dollar store” chains displace local business and siphon away wealth and opportunity, we aim to improve and proliferate a positive alternative.

Community-owned businesses include a range of business types and structures in which local residents finance and own them collectively. Such businesses may be the only realistic hope for a community to avoid dependence on absentee-owned corporations in many situations, such as isolated rural towns where residents must drive far just to find fresh food or necessities.

Community ownership can be a game-changer here – and AMIBA is applying our knowledge gained helping people successfully replicate the Independent Business Alliance model to community-owned business. We’ll build on the successes to develop a thorough support system for a nationally-known and replicable concept.

As you see, we remain resolute in helping citizens keep their communities strong and prosperous for all residents, and our continued impact depends on your financial support. Together, we’ll continue inspiring people everywhere to be deliberate stewards of their communities.

Amar with AMIBA Co-director Jennifer Rockne

The Business Against Bigotry campaign connected us with some remarkable people…and disturbing stories. Early this year we received this note: My name is Amardeep Singh. I write because there was a horrible hate incident in Hoboken, NJ where I live perpetrated by a local business owner. In response, local city officials (actually his brother, City Council Member Ravi Bhalla) are encouraging local businesses to join AMIBA’s Business Against Bigotry campaign by placing your decals on their windows.

We rushed them 100 decals, then another 300 Mr. Bhalla requested and distributed to help Hoboken’s other independent business owners stand together against hate. This fall, we were delighted to learn Ravi Bhalla ran for — and won — election as Hoboken’s mayor. Positive impact, assets in action. 

Please give today and partner with us to continue helping Americans build more resilient and prosperous communities. It’s tax-deductible!

For donations between now and Dec. 31, one generous donor will match your gift — up to a total of $10,000 — to help launch the Center for Community Ownership to help communities lessen dependence on absentee-owned corporations. Please help us take full advantage of this huge opportunity — our first ever!

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