For the past 14 years BALLE has produced an annual Conference with the goals of having deep, important conversations around emerging innovations and business solutions for building healthy, sustainable, and competitive local economies that work for all. At BALLE, we understand the transformational power of convening our communities. That’s why our conferences bring together thousands of local economy leaders and entrepreneurs, advocates and organizers, investors and philanthropists, thought leaders and luminaries across North America.

We’ve traveled from coast to coast to immerse into local communities, taken tours of local businesses, organized cash mobs, driven on buses to Fiber Sheds, eaten delicious local, organic foods and learned about cities and people that are truly inspiring. Our conferences have incubated movements such as BCorp, Local First and Community Capital – working in community for communities.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies’ conference is a Davos for Main Street business owners.” – Bloomberg Businessweek

As an organization that is committed to innovation and experimentation, we have decided to spend 2016 on the road, learning from and engaging with the growing network of Localists who are producing events in their places. We’re hitting main stages at national events like SOCAP and World Economic Forum, while also bringing Place-Based Impact Investing workshops to communities across the country. While we are trying a new approach in 2016, this change doesn’t mean we won’t do an annual conference again. We are excited to learn from this experiment, to be exploring new ways of reaching and connecting with more of you in your regions, and also learn first-hand how we can better serve you in your community. Check out some of our upcoming events and engage in your place!

Here’s a look at our conference programming over the last 15 years:

leadershipsummit2016: BALLE Leadership Summit 
Pacific Grove, CA

In 2016, BALLE hosted it’s first-ever Leadership Summit, gathering the local economy leaders from our communities of practice at this invitational event. We know that the path to creating healthy, equitable economies starts with weaving the right relationships needed to build effective solutions. The Leadership Summit was an intimate event designed to do just that – harness the wisdom, resources, and knowledge of this movement to create solutions that work.  Read More about the Summit.


2015: What’s Working Locally
Phoenix, AZ

The 2015 Conference in Phoenix, Arizona was BALLE’s first conference in the Southwest region of the U.S. Our local conference partner, Local First Arizona, helped immerse attendees in the region’s unique Latino and indigenous cultures, and gave attendees new perspectives about Phoenix and Arizona. The infamous heat was mild, the food was delicious, and the parties were outstanding.


  • A powerful opening presentation by Joel Salatin on the importance of soil to all life. [Video Here]
  • A moving session on the Convergence of Social Movements featuring Van Jones, David Korten, and Adrienne Maree Brown. [Video Here]
  • Tours exploring urban agriculture, rural economic development, and adaptively reused buildings in the downtown core.
  • View the 2015 BALLE Conference Program

balle_2014_350x2014: Prosperity for All
Oakland, CA

To celebrate BALLE’s 2014 relocation to the Bay Area, we hosted the 2014 Conference on Lake Merritt, in Oakland. Attendees came ready to work and experience Localism in action in this vibrant hotbed of innovative local Economy work. Part of the conference was held at BALLE’s new home, Impact Hub Oakland, presented by the conference’s local host, the East Bay Sustainable Business Alliance.


  • A rousing closing keynote discussion between Glynn Washington, Kat Taylor, Saru Jayaraman, and Otto Scharmer on the future of Localism.
  • Participant collaboration and connection in the Living Economy Lounge and Local Economy Leaders Forum.
  • Burlesque shows at an industrial art warehouse surrounded by truck-mounted fire-breathing horse sculptures.
  • View the 2014 BALLE Conference Program

balle_2013_350x2013: Building Local Economies from the Grassroots Up
Buffalo, NY

The most common question we received in the lead up to the 2013 Conference was: why Buffalo? The answer was apparent to all who attended, when they experienced the powerful resurgence of this Rust Belt city where passionate Localist trailblazing is driving a dynamic transition from old economy to new. Local host, Buffalo First, made sure that the city was the real star of the show.


  • Luminaries like Janine Benyus, Nipun Mehta, and Mark Brand inspired attendees from the stage.
  • Events were held in reclaimed grain silos, renovated chapels, underground music venues, and green redevelopment projects.
  • View the 2013 BALLE Conference Program


balle_2012_350x2012: Real Prosperity Starts Here
Grand Rapids, MI

For the 2012 Conference, BALLE chose Grand Rapids, MI as a location, working with conference host, Local First West Michigan, to bring the conference to the Midwest for the first time. Grand Rapids did not disappoint, impressing attendees with the cutting-edge work happening in their community.


  • Speakers including Maggie Anderson, Gar Alperovitz, Grace Lee Boggs, Ben Cohen, and Charles Eisenstein moved hearts and minds.
  • The capstone Local Economy tour of nearby Detroit showcased the Localist-led rebirth of that quintessential post-industrial city.
  • View the 2012 BALLE Conference Program
2010: Lighting the Way to a New Economy
Charleston, South Carolina
2009: Rising to the Challenge: Entrepreneurs Building Living Economies
Denver, Colorado
2008: Grow Deep: Business Leaders Building Strong Communities
Boston, Massachusetts 
2007: Leading the Evolution of Local Economies
Berkeley, California
2006: Creating Sustainable Communities
Burlington, Vermont
2005: Third Annual International Conference of BALLE
Vancouver, British Columbia
2004: Creating Local Living Economies
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2003: First Annual BALLE Conference
Portland, Oregon