American Independent Business Alliance

Popular Speaking and Workshop Topics

AMIBA staff will work with you to identify the speaker best suited to your needs and craft the agenda to achieve the goals of your organization (and if the best person for your event is someone not working directly with us, we will tell you!). Here are the most popular offerings:

Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers provides participants an up-close look at how an Independent Business Alliance® functions and the lessons we’ve learned through our experience of helping more than 120 organizations establish or advance. This workshop is invaluable in jumpstarting a new local business / economic development alliance with a focus on building a culture of support for entrepreneurship, local branding, organization, funding, and more.

We include plenty of discussion time and work with the host to achieve concrete progress in building your foundation. The linked outline is just an example — we’ll work with you to develop an agenda based on your goals and can combine elements of the presentations below. 3 – 5 hours suggested. Click here for full outline

Developing and Sustaining Effective Buy Local Campaigns

This presentation is our most popular for conferences as well as communities and organizations wishing to instigate or improve a local campaign. Campaigns launched with the benefit of AMIBA’s guidance and support have made a powerful impact in shifting local culture and spending.

Let us help you avoid common pitfalls and create a long-lasting culture of support for your local businesses. We cover message crafting and delivery, storytelling, audience targeting, funding and other important elements so participants will gain a thorough understanding of keys to organizing an effective campaign. Presentations range from one hour (for conferences) to five-hour workshops for groups wanting to emerge with more concrete plans and a timeline. 2.5 – 4.5 hours suggested. Click here for full outline 

Keynote: How Independent Businesses Are Beating the Chains via Community Engagement and Teamwork

Our most popular keynote talk for trade shows introduces strategies and tools independents across multiple business sectors are using within their communities to compete successfully.  We’ll highlight examples relevant to your constituents and/or geographic area to ensure the stories hit home with ideas participants can employ in their own business or organization. (The talk addresses online competitors as well as chains.)

See the conferences and trade shows that have featured AMIBA speakers.

Job Creation: Myth, Facts, and Provocations

Job creation is on everyone’s minds these days, but who creates jobs and why? While it’s easy to identify triggers for economic slumps, it’s tougher to plan for an economy less vulnerable to those outside disruptions. We’ll provide a range of tools with which communities can build a more durable and stable economy to increase long-term job creation and encourage entrepreneurship.

Main St. v Wall Street: Which Side Are Your Local Policies Helping?

What would it look like if national policies reflected the political rhetoric championing small business? We expose many ways in which corporate consolidation, chain proliferation, online shopping and job flight are driven by law and policy, not just market forces. We’ll then explore changes necessary to reverse incentives to create a pro-small business environment that can help more independents thrive.

What Local and Regional Government Can Do to Spark Entrepreneurship and Build Local Vitality

From public policy to connecting would-be business owners with knowledge, resources and capital, there’s much local governments can do to help local businesses thrive. Depending on your assets, challenges and other circumstances, we’ll highlight the tools, policies and actions likely to yield the most benefit to your community. (We’ll send a brief questionnaire to help focus discussion prior to your committing).

Integrating Local Food Systems

Integrating local food and farms into your broader support for local entrepreneurs is an important way to increase the reach of your work and create “big picture thinking” in your group. Lilian Brislen, a veteran of regional food system development and Independent Business Alliances, highlights the unique opportunities and special considerations presented by local food and farming/ranching. She’ll provide concrete examples of how to start small and grow big with local food and farm programs.

For urban areas looking to support regional agriculture, Nicola Williams and Laury Hammel offer expertise in regional food and beer festivals, farm to restaurant programs, and others through their food program leadership with the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts.

TaxShift!

While the dominant political parties engage in endless sniping over tax rates and who pays, we encourage deeper questioning of what we tax, why, and what activities we encourage or deter through tax policy. For example:

  • We penalize businesses for adding employees, while rewarding with tax-write-offs for replacing workers with machines.
  • We reward construction of cheap, single-story buildings on the periphery of communities while penalizing high-quality, multi-use construction in our centers.
  • We subsidize centralization and waste, while often handicapping local and small-scale manufacturing and production.
  • How do we change the status quo and institute more sensible policies?

Additional Training Modules and Services for On-site Consultations

Note: For some of these topics, we provide strong entry-level trainings, but will recommend other experts for those seeking more intensive focus on certain elements.

Board of Directors Workshop and Training

For organizations engaged in pro-local business organizing, AMIBA offers a one-day seminar to increase board effectiveness, educate board members on their legal responsibility to the organization and to develop a work plan which the board can use over the following 12 months to track their performance and accomplish agreed upon goals and tasks. One 6-8 hour session or two 3-4 hour sessions are recommended. Click here for full outline 

Bettering your local businesses

Even the best-run “buy local” initiative will fail if customers don’t see attractive local businesses where they are treated well and receive excellent value! We focus on helping storefront operations improve their overall attractiveness, marketing and customer service by getting first-hand experience at a large sampling of your businesses. If you wish, this can include evaluations for individual businesses as well as collective impressions and recommendations (as part of an inclusive cost or offered a la carte to interested businesses).

AMIBA’s trainer will spend at least four hours walking your commercial districts, entering local businesses and interacting with employees. We will provide a written summary with overall ratings on multiple criteria, as well as prioritized recommendations and suggestions for specific trainings that may be useful for your business owners.  We document and photograph positive examples to spotlight your local businesses doing things well, which we provide you for subsequent use.

Even if you recognize the weaknesses of your local businesses and how they should improve, the “outside expert” view can help you get the message across.

Improving your community experience

Improve your town’s physical environment to enhance local business districts and make a better impression. This can include streets, signage, pedestrian access, safety, seating, beautification and other public infrastructure based on your preferences. A report can be provided in writing and pictures, or turned into a presentation or workshop. We can provide advice specifically to address the perspective of unfamiliar visitors as well as more general recommendations.

Understand where and why money is leaving your community

Surveying residents, business owners and institutions can yield valuable data to show where you have the best opportunities to “plug the leaks” in your local economy. AMIBA makes it easy for you to tap this valuable information at affordable cost. We’ll design and host an online survey for your community, compile and clean up the data, and provide both a concise overview of the findings along with recommended actions and guidance on where to begin.

Building your media presence

We’ll help your group develop skills in building media relationships, persuasive writing, effective presentations, editorial board meetings, using talk radio, organizing a letters-to-the-editor campaign and more.

Selling experiences (not just goods and services)

How your local shops can build customer engagement and loyalty to compete successfully with chains and online mega-retailers.

Assessing your local tax and land use policy

This requires at least one on-site day for interviews, map reviews and tour prior to presentation of recommendations and workshop on day two. Create a priority list of areas for improvement to aid local entrepreneurs and generating support for implementing changes.

Creating jobs and wealth through localizing government and institutional purchasing

How to identify the areas of greatest opportunity through surveying and make it easier for local entrepreneurs to identify and fulfill them.

Smart growth for beginners

What it is, how it can save taxpayers money and why it can keep a lot more money circulating in your local economy. We can present general principles or include a pre-event local evaluation and community-specific recommendations.

Understanding place branding

What it is, what it can and cannot do. This is a critical precursor to a planning workshop, as misunderstanding is the norm, not the exception.

Developing your place brand and campaign

Note: we do not advise the following unless you have a sufficient budget to invest in developing and marketing your brand (for local artists, printing, media, etc.) In the first year, an investment of at least $5,000 plus $1 or more per resident is a recommended baseline.

This is an interactive workshop and follow-up consultation. We suggest planning at least five hours — ideally spread over two days for an initial brainstorm and planning. Please contact us for details on who should be in the room.

AMIBA is not a full-service place brand campaign developer; we simply facilitate your community brainstorming, guide you to consider key questions, relevant examples and best practices. We believe communities should employ local artists, media and other local talent to the degree possible to help fully engage your local businesses and residents — even though this is less efficient. However, we can suggest reputable full-service firms on request.

Please contact us with any questions or requests.

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