Strength in Numbers, February 2015

Strength in Numbers, February 2015

Survey Shows Big Revenue Gains for Businesses in Communities With Independent Business Alliances

The 7th annual survey of business owners across the U.S. and Canada offers much good news for independents and again suggests the long-term educational work of Independent Business Alliances / Local First groups is yielding big benefits for their members and local economies.

The survey by the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) and Advocates for Independent Business (a coalition comprised of AMIBA, ILSR and 13 other groups) tallied responses from more than 3000 independent businesses. Just under half were retailers while restaurants, service providers and others comprised smaller portions. Among the notable results:

  • Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy independent/buy local” campaign run by grassroots groups saw revenues grow 9.3% in 2014, nearly double the 4.9% increase for businesses in areas without such an alliance.
  • Retailers surveyed reported a 5.1% increase in same-store sales last year, beating many competing chains, while independent businesses overall reported revenue growth of 8.1% on average.
  • Wages paid by respondents equaled or exceeded their chain competitors. 41% of independents’ employees make between $10 and $15 hourly, while 34% make $15 or more hourly.

Primer-front-coverThe report also includes respondents’ views on a wide range of issues, including their top business challenges, policy concerns and more.

Read or download the full report (14 pp pdf). If your local group has not yet issued a localized news release to take advantage of this opportunity and build support for your work, please contact us today for a “plug-and-play” news release template. It’s an opportunity not to miss!

Guide to Effective Buy Local Campaigns Revised with New Data

Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending — “the bible of buy local campaigns” — has been updated with the 2015 data.

You can download it in your choice of English or Spanish (pdf) free upon request. See our “buy local” merchandise page to order full-color print copies at minimal cost (data not updated in print copies).

Independent Business Alliance Action

shift_rectangleLocal First Milwaukee Has Localization Brewing
Learn about the growing success of this alliance serving SE Wisconsin, its Shift Happens campaign and grant-seeking success.

Guide to Local Options for Raising Capital
Oakland Grown and the East Bay Sustainable Business Alliance partnered with the East Bay Express to produce the Good Local Money Guide — a primer on options for businesses seeking local capital. The guide can be downloaded as a pdf or viewed online. Talk to us if you’d like to see a resource like this in your community!

A Cryptic Beginning, A Decade of Success
Learn the clever origin of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance and how the Alliance helped inspire passion and local government support for indies in Kentucky.

AMIBA affiliates: put your group in an online feature story! Just complete this questionnaire and we’ll craft the story.

Local Economy Leader Interview: Laury Hammel
Laury Hammel not only has led the development of several independent business coalitions, he’s volunteered his time to help dozens more — all while running a successful network of businesses that serve as a model for doing good while making a profit. Learn more about one of the Localization Movement’s key leaders.

Indie Business News Briefs

Creating Local Jobs and Wealth Through Investment Co-ops
Yes Magazine and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance teamed up to publish this in-depth story of initiatives in both the U.S. and Canada.

Stop Telecom Giants from Suppressing Community Broadband, Harming Small Business
Some 20 states are helping telecom giants maintain their dominance at the expense of small businesses. AMIBA’s Jeff Milchen says there’s a better way.

In related news, here’s what the new FCC ruling on net neutrality means for you.

More Good News from Indie Booksellers
Canadian Independent Bookstores Report a Strong Year and Indie Bookstores Fill Void Left by Borders

A Tale of Two Mergers
Anti-trust law largely has been ignored by both Republican and Democratic administrations in recent decades — with much harm to independent businesses resulting. Proposed mergers of the two remaining office supply giants and the two largest restaurant suppliers are pending, with the FTC’s opposition to the latter a promising sign.

Streets Are Not Roads
Your community’s physical infrastructure plays a large role in determining economic viability and what kind of business is likely to thrive there. In related news, the City of Raleigh, NC will soon prioritize local businesses and residents over speeding commuters in and out of the city by converting some one-way streets to two-way.

Judge Rules Credit Card Restrictions on Merchants Are Anti-competitive
A federal judge ruled last week that American Express may not prevent businesses from encouraging customers to pay with lower-cost cards. (American Express OPEN is an AMIBA sponsor).

Hiring Strong at Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

Advocates for Independent Business (AIB) Endorses Requiring Governments to Disclose Economic Development Tax Incentives

Welcome to AMIBA’s Newest Sponsor is a nonprofit program that accelerates small and independent businesses who hire from or are located in lower-income communities. They provide tailored assistance to help small businesses grow by connecting them with mentors and consultants from an extensive pro-bono business advisor network. has helped thousands of small businesses create tens of thousands of jobs. Among 256 companies served last year, revenues increased by 25% on average, while job gains were 10 times the national average. Learn more about why we’re excited to work with this program and share this great resource with businesses that may meet their criteria.

In addition to general sponsorship, AMIBA now presents specific project sponsorship opportunities.

St Patrick’s Day Graphics

Our collection of pro-local graphics for Valentine’s Day was so popular that we decided to start (gradually) building options for other minor holidays. Here’s the initial offering for St. Patrick’s Day. AMIBA affiliates may get ads with their name and logo inserted at no cost.


Wow…joining AMIBA should have been the first thing we did!

If you’re part of a pro-local business organization that is not yet part of AMIBA, you’re losing out on resources that will save your group time, money and headaches, while increasing your impact. AMIBA is a non-profit network of by and for independent business advocates.

See the ever-growing number of reasons your group will benefit from joining today!

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