It's official: We couldn’t be more excited to work with BALLE network Buffalo First! to hold our 2013 Conference in Buffalo, New York! You may think of Buffalo as the poster child for post-industrial economic decline, but the citizens of Buffalo have reversed their fortunes through a deep commitment to building a Localist Economy based on local ownership, social entrepreneurship, economic justice, and community wellbeing. Stay tuned for more information!
BALLE in Buffalo 2013, and why you should care
By Katie Krawczyk
On Thursday, May 31, officials from Buffalo First!, Buffalo State College, the City of Buffalo and Erie County are holding a press conference at 10:00 a.m. at Bidwell Park to announce the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies' (BALLE) annual conference for 2013 will be held at Buffalo State College, the 4-day conference is scheduled for June 11-14, 2013.
Some of you may have seen posts on social media talking about BALLE a few months ago; others may not be as familiar with the organization. So, here it is: BALLE is North America's fastest growing network of socially responsible businesses, comprised of over 80 community networks in 30 U.S. states and Canadian provinces representing over 22,000 independent business members across the U.S. and Canada. The organization believes that local, independent businesses are among the most potent change agents, uniquely prepared to take on today's challenges with a sense of place and a relationship-based approach. Further, BALLE believes businesses are more than employers and profit-makers; they are neighbors, community builders and the starting point for social innovation, aligning commerce with the common good through transparency and accountability.
Now for the 'why you should care' part:
The 2013 BALLE Business Conference will be held in Buffalo, and, with it, will bring over 700 social entrepreneurs, local business network leaders, investors and change agents to Western New York to connect, share and learn new ways to build an innovative and sustainable future and toward fostering strong local economies. The economic impact for this 4-day national conference is anticipated to be $716,000.
I sat down with Sarah Bishop, Buffalo First! Executive Director, who spoke at this year's BALLE conference in Grand Rapids. As Buffalo First!'s mission is to create a more just, sustainable and local living economy in Buffalo and Western New York, Sarah and her team have been champions in bringing BALLE here next year. In fact, anyone that knows Sarah knows her passion for building sustainable local economies through the promotion of local business. I want to share with you what this conference means to Buffalo through her eyes:
"Buffalo has been a prime example of how a city can change itself from within. We know better than anyone how a bottom-up approach with emphasis on local decision making, community participation and grassroots mobilization can render marked change and reenergize an urban core," said Sarah. "We hope that the people of Buffalo will see this conference for what it is: an opportunity to connect with the nation's local movement founders, leaders, and visionaries."
She continued, "Buffalo First! believes this is a significant moment for the BALLE community. As they continue to grapple with the best methodologies for supporting the New Economy in ethnically and socioeconomically diverse places, we know they will find a number of models and metrics here in Buffalo."
Finally, when I asked her, 'what does having this conference Buffalo mean to our city?', she answered simply with:
"A chance to lead."
The photographs shown were taken from this year's BALLE conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They include Business First! Executive Director Sarah Bishop, BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long and BALLE Co-Founder Judy Wicks. Check out this year's conference highlights here.