American Independent Business Alliance

“Buy Nearby” and Independent: Mason Area IBA

“Buy Nearby” and Independent: Mason Area IBA

mason-area-iba“As one of the few areas of Michigan that grew economically during the Great Recession, we believe strongly in the local multiplier effect,” says Doug Klein, Director of the Mason Area Independent Business Alliance (MAiBA). Local ownership of business is one reason he believes the area has fared so well.

MAiBA is one of the few IBAs to originate from a local chamber of commerce. The Mason Area Chamber’s Hometown USA Committee authorized MAiBA’s formation in the summer of 2013 to expand and deepen their work to promote local independent business. “We had organized ‘cash mobs‘ for over a year and wanted to find new ways to get the pro-local / independent message out,” says Klein. The community already had executed a “Mason Values” campaign aimed at citizen education and a “Grow Mason” campaign to promote local business-to-business purchasing.

“We realized the ‘biggest bang for our local buck’ is in promoting buying from local and independent businesses,” notes Klein. MAiBA organizes seasonal promotions using Independents Week, Mason Values Week, Michigan Buy Nearby Day, and Small Business Saturday as opportunities to get the message out about MAiBA members and their impact on the local economy.

MAiBA aims to be present at nearly all community events, spreading the word and distributing materials at their County Fair, Sun Dried Music Fest, Down Home Days festival, Mason Area Women’s Expo, Mason Area Business-to-Business Expo, Spring Fling festival, and Outdoor Expo. “The constant drumbeat of our ‘buy local and independent’ message helps it stick with residents,” declares Klein.

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Klein says “AMIBA’s Put Your Money Where Your House Is and Love Local themes resonate strongly in our community,” and they make frequent us of these materials.

MAiBA also has their members and supporters commit to a new pledge each year to shift at least 5% of their spending to local independent business from non-local sources. They push the pledge out several times a year in conjunction with the seasonal events noted previously.

MAiBA strives to maintain a cohesive message that encourages choosing local and independent first while also encouraging regional cooperation.  The group promotes “Six Degrees of Local” — a kind of “bull’s eye” order-of-preference approach to doing business and supporting a more resilient local economy:

1. Buying local and independent
2. Businesses located in the community
3. Independents in the region
4. Other businesses in the region
5. Independent Michigan businesses
6. U.S. independent businesses

Many chambers of commerce worry about offending absentee-owned businesses with campaigns that focus on independents, not just a local presence, but Klein’s experience suggests they shouldn’t be so timid. While MAiBA’s messaging is all about independents, “even some franchises and chains have supported our efforts, because what we do makes for a stronger local economic climate that helps everyone do business better.”

Learn more about Independent Business Alliances or see who’s interested in launching a new IBA or “buy local” initiative in your community.

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