Strength in Numbers, May 2012

Strength in Numbers, May 2012

Indie Business News Highlights

Changing Incentives
A recent policy brief by the Union for Concerned Scientists explains how federal subsidies drive agriculture in the wrong direction by favoring industrial-scale operations that rely heavily on mechanization and pesticides — at the expense of smaller farms that create more jobs and have far better environmental impacts. Read the four page report and recommendations (pdf) here.

Good News, Bad News on Jobs
NBC reported recently (video) on Element, a firm now making TVs in Detroit. While we’re glad to see manufacturing jobs initiated in Detroit, selling a uniquely differentiated product to big box chains, where all products are commodities, seems like a flawed business plan to us.

The May U.S. jobs report was poor, but it’s notable that small (fewer than 50 workers) businesses created more than four times as many jobs as big business. Details here.

Chicago Eases Red Tape Tangle
Chicago announced that the number of different licenses (many businesses require multiple licenses will be cut from 117 to 49. “Getting a business started in Chicago too often requires navigating a maze of rules and red tape. This complexity favors those with the money and connections to hire insiders that can show them the way, leaving small businesses to fend for themselves,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Contact us for ideas on handling similar problems in your community.

Cities Move to Support Community-Invested Banks
New York City and Los Angeles are among cities to raise the bar for banks wishing to enjoy city’s business by demonstrating their commitment and investment in the community. See this L.A. times report.

Graphs of the Month
Four years after the meltdown, the biggest banks control even more of the banking market.

News from Local Alliances

The Louisville IBA, Grasshoppers Distributing and other partners, presented their 4th annual Buy Local First Fair in May, highlighting the work of over 100 local artisans, farmers and boutiques. It included a kid’s activity area, chefs competition, local breweries, food and raffles, live music and farmers market booths.

Think Local Umpqua, in their continuing effort to issue a top-notch print directory, held its annual Proofreading Party in May. Getting more eyes on the publication helps ensure typos and other problems are caught while everyone enjoys a good time.

We’re often asked whether print directories remain effective with the rise of web and smart phone search tools. While easy-to-use digital directories are essential, print directories remain valuable —even though few people will use them as a directory. Why? They are visible expressions of support for your local alliance and make a powerful statement when prominently displayed by local businesses and institutions.

The Blackstone Valley IBA (Woonsocket area, RI) launched their 2012 coupon book – full of incentives from BVIBA member businesses. All sales proceeds will support the middle school arts and music program. A nice way to instill the concept of community dedication of indie businesses!

The Fresno Regional IBA is the latest enrollee in AMIBA’s 501c6 Group Exemption program and now is exempt from paying federal income tax to the IRS (except unrelated business income). AMIBA affiliates can save the cost and hassle of going through the IRS for tax exempt status and this benefit alone may cover your cost of affiliation! Contact us for details.

The new Front Royal IBA (Virginia) debuts their website.

Upcoming Events

May Conference Call on Executing an Effective Cash Mob
AMIBA’s May organizers’ call will review the experience of several IBAs in staging cash mobs, ideas for best practices, creative twists and using the events to advance your alliance. IBA leaders from Asheville, Blackstone Valley and Warwick (RI) and guest presenter Amy Cortese, author of Locavesting, will share their experiences and answer questions on Thursday, May 31 4PM Eastern. While calls are a benefit for AMIBA affiliates (you already should have received details if you’re on staff or board of an affiliate), all are welcome to sample one call–contact us to inquire.

Independents Week — July 1-7
Join in this annual celebration of our Independents with activities, proclamations, and community-building! Review the resources offered (all free) by AMIBA here.

Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy
AMIBA is proud to announce we’ve become a partner in the American Sustainable Business Council, working to advance a more vibrant, just and sustainable economy. Check out their site and upcoming Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy in Washington, DC June 11-13 to learn more.

“Small Towns, Big Futures” Conference in Ohio (August 14-15)
This Ohio Rural Communities Assistance Program event offers tracks on infrastructure, economic development, and leadership/management that represent the best trends and practices in community and economic development. AMIBA’s Lily Brislen will offer a two-hour session on Developing High-Impact Buy Local Campaigns. Contact Ohio RCAP for more.

See other confirmed summer events here. We’re now scheduling fall dates and encourage you to inquire early for the lowest cost opportunities and best choice of dates — we expect the fall schedule to be fully booked.

National Potluck Week
Stronger communities = greater likelihood of support for local entrepreneurs. AMIBA is proud to partner in this new community-building event: National Potluck Week (May 20-26) Consider attending or hosting an event in your area. the idea through your local group.

Pointers for Indie Business Owners and Advocates

Website Tips for Local Alliances

  • Take a look at the images on your website. If the photos are of buildings and objects and don’t include people, consider more people-centered images. Personal connections and stories are key to building a culture of support for local business.
  • If your group has federal tax-exempt status or plans to apply for it (to the IRS directly or through AMIBA’s 501c6 group exemption), be aware the IRS will scrutinize your website and likely print every page (yes–our taxes at work). To be tax-exempt, your group cannot be organized for profit or to benefit any private interest. So what does your group’s home page say about you? Leave member promotion to other pages (recognizing new members and sponsors or a rotating business profile are OK — promoting their sales is not) and make sure educational messages are prominent. First impressions matter!

The Future of Retail
Harvard Business Review has produced “The Future of Retail,” an anthology of articles covering a wide range of challenges and opportunities in the sector. Every retailer will find helpful ideas among this broad collection (pdf).

New Member Resources

(These items are accessible to affiliates only–please log in prior to clicking link below). Affiliation information is posted here.

Celebration of Neighborhoods
Ideas for partnering with a neighborhood association and other community organizations to celebrate the unique neighborhoods that comprise your community — and independent businesses are integral to thriving neighborhoods.

Developing Sponsorships
Sponsorships can build and diversify your organization’s funding, but this can be a murky area for non-profits. Sponsorships also can place your tax-exempt status at risk if not handled properly, and even damage your organization’s reputation if you’re not careful. This new section offers some considerations for exploring and approaching sponsorships.

Also, the Events section has been updated, including information on:

Welcome to these new AMIBA Affiliates in May

Local First serving La Plata County, Colorado

Modesto Independent Business Alliance (Stanislaus County, California)

AMIBA is Hiring! (and Contracting)

bznAMIBA seeks an office manager for our HQ in Bozeman, MT — with great opportunity for advancement to a leadership position. We also are seeking a web developer for contract help (ModX) and summer interns. Review the opportunities here.

Job and Internship Posting Board
We welcome all local business advocacy groups to send us job or internship announcements for your local organization to reach our network via our newish job board.

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