News from Independent Business Alliances
Sustain-a-Bull Durham assembled an attractive web banner and guide to distinctive offerings from member businesses to help drive customers to members for their Valentine’s Day shopping. They also helped spread their bumper sticker around town with a contest and became at least the second IBA to make a co-working facility its home.
The Imperial Valley Independent Business Alliance (CA) successfully encouraged the City of El Centro to pass one of the strongest local purchasing/contracting preferences (pdf) we’ve seen yet. The ordinance states “Local Business Enterprises” that are both locally owned and generate a majority of their revenue locally will win a contract if they come within 10% of the lowest bid by an outside company.
IVIBA President Paul McManus said, “I’m proud of the [City] for unanimously passing this local bid preference. With much of our local economy tied to government spending, the City is sending a clear message about the importance of keeping those tax dollars local.”
The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts is partnering with the state Dept. of Agricultural Resources for their second Buy Local Food Trade Show on March 19. The event connects local food buyers and sellers of specialty crop food products. Workshops provide guidance on overcoming barriers to selling and purchasing local products, and other key issues.
The Mile High Business Alliance hosted their Local Food Summit on February 11, gathering growers, producers, retailers and restaurateurs to advance localization of the area’s food infrastructure and learn more about key programs and issues.
Metro IBA’s (Twin Cities) February networking event focused on the new Minnesota legislative session. Nine metro area State Representatives attended and spoke to the membership — a great testament to the group’s growing power. Metro IBA director Mary Hamel reports the big message taken away was the legislators want to hear from the IBA to balance out other business interests.
In the massive storm that dumped more than 30 inches of heavy snow on Portland, Maine, community members also are showing support for Longfellow Books (naturally, a member of Portland Buy Local). 70 mph winds broke a store window and froze a water pipe which burst, dousing 30-40% of the store’s inventory. In response to a simple notice on the store’s Facebook page about their forced closure, more than 200 people volunteered (unsolicited) just to help them recover in various ways.
New Resources for Indie Business Advocates and Owners
Use Valentine’s Day Ads to Deliver the Pro-Local Message
Our latest “Go Local” ad is the most popular we’ve produced — shared more than 1000 times on Facebook just days after posting. See why!
Seven Ways Businesses and Communities Can Counter “Showrooming”
Though we published this pre-Christmas, the challenge grows for storefront businesses, so we continue receiving reprint requests. We’ve made a shortened 800-word edit available free to republish upon request and added a printable poster template for store owners to use.
Recruiting the Right Board Members
This new article from the National Main Street Center offers many useful ideas on the topic and complements the many articles and tools for board development available to AMIBA affiliates. (Log in to member resources, then see the Board Development index). One link in the Main St. article is only accessible to their members, but you’ll find comparable AMIBA material.
This interesting tool shows your business’ listing on many online business directories (free, charge for their auto-updating service).
USDA offers loans for farmers who grow local
Indie Business News Briefs
There’s a chain store battle in NYC, but not against one of the typical antagonists — it’s the 48,000-outlet 7-Eleven Corporation generating a backlash as its rapid spread threatens family-owned bodegas. For us, reader comments about extraordinary service provided by independent bodegas in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy overshadowed the story (and recalled many similar stories post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina).
“When Sandy hit, none of the chain stores were open for over a week. Only the local bodegas (and bars/restaurants) were open to serve the community that was much in need. They used flashlights to guide customers through the aisles, generators brought in from their own homes, and drove hours to other boroughs to bring back ice. They extended credit to their customers and other local establishments as ATM and credit card machines didn’t work. They offered free hot drinks since it was freezing. These are just recent examples of the service bodegas provide the community which cannot be replicated by chains.”
Sending Flowers? Don’t Get Duped — Find a Real Florist
The Internet and Yellow Pages are rife with businesses adept at making themselves appear as if they are shops in the city or town where you want the gift delivered, when they actually are just middlemen. Find the real deal and, as one reporter attested in head-to-head comparisons, get “by far the most impressive” bouquets. Read more.
Time to Break up the Big Banks
Stalwart conservative columnist George Will, unabashedly progressive Senator Sherrod Brown and the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas share at least one thing in common: recognition that Too-Big-to-Fail Banks must be dismantled to enable competition and reduce our vulnerability to economic crises.
Stay Informed on Federal Policies Impacting Small Business
The House Committee on Small Business has launched a new website to help small businesses track pending federal legislation potentially affecting them by providing concise summaries and a click-through form to submit public comment. The site also offers a good tip sheet on submitting effective comments (they apply well to commenting on policies in your state or community).
Don’t Miss This!
In case you’re among new subscribers who missed last week’s special announcement, a new survey of more than 2300 indie business owners provided inspiring data, including this: independent businesses served by Independent Business Alliances (IBAs) and similarly-modeled groups are outperforming their peers by a wide margin.
Upcoming Conferences for Advocates of Entrepreneurism, Vital Downtowns and Local Business
Consider attending one of these great upcoming events.
- The National Main Street Center’s annual conference is coming to New Orleans April 14-16
- Slow Money’s annual gathering is in Boulder, CO April 29-30
- The Assn. for Enterprise Opportunity microenterprise conference is in St. Louis May 5-8
- BALLE’s annual conference is in Buffalo, NY June 12-14
AMIBA’s biennial conference occurs in 2014.
See an AMIBA Speaker Near You, or Bring One to Your Community!
We’ve added multiple events in the Great Lakes Region to the calendar for March since last week. We now are scheduling April and May events in many regions. Underwriting is available from American Express OPEN for at least eight more communities to host presentations and trainings at a fraction of the normal cost. This is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so contact us now to inquire).
New Independent Business Alliances
Choose Local First (San Diego)
Boulder Book Store
Stay Informed and Connected!
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