Across the country, local communities have rallied in support of their small businesses and downtown districts. Through Main Street organizations, chambers of commerce and business alliances, communities have strengthened their local economies, restored vacant commercial districts and generated enthusiasm among their residents. It’s not a coincidence that so many communities have taken up a common cause. In fact, it’s the work of groups like the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) to connect local communities to each other for this exact purpose.
AMIBA encourages local communities to communicate, share resources and build partnerships in order to revitalize and strengthen their local economies. Through these connections, local communities can generate new ideas for strengthening independent businesses, influencing policy and competing with big-box and online competitors. Specifically, AMIBA provides templated resources that communities can customize, organizes educational presentations and workshops for community organizations and connects people to their local Independent Business Alliance.
For the AMIBA team, this role as a community conduit makes sense. In 1997, David Bolduc and Jeff Milchen launched the first Independent Business Alliance in Boulder, Colorado. They created a proactive strategy to support the community’s small businesses and preserving the local character. After just two years, the Independent Business Alliance consisted of a coalition of 150 independent businesses and non-profits from the local area. Following this success in one community, Milchen and colleague Jennifer Rockne thought bigger, creating AMIBA as a leader of the burgeoning localization movement at the national level.
“The most rewarding thing overall is just seeing the movement continue to grow,” Milchen says. “The localization movement, as we call it, is taking root. Now we need to grow to the point where we can start shifting consciousness and policy at a national level the way many communities have succeeded in doing.”
By connecting communities across the country, AMIBA gives the localization movement a new dimension: It transforms the work of individual communities into a united effort that is big enough and strong enough to rival the big-box competitors. AMIBA gives small businesses and their individual communities strength in numbers.
For more information about AMIBA, visit www.amiba.net.