Dan and Ben Miller began tugging two years ago at a simple question they believe is central to the failings of the American real estate industry.
The brothers – sons of a well-known Washington, D.C. developer – had begun acquiring properties themselves in the city’s emerging neighborhoods where traditional capital seldom goes. Real estate developments are typically financed by wealthy investors who live in the suburbs, or by Wall Street funds even farther away. In a neighborhood like Washington’s H Street Northeast corridor, this means that local projects often can’t find backing, or that far-flung investors put up safe, formulaic products in their place: say, "the glass shiny office/condo building that’s horrible," Dan Miller says, grimacing.
This model – with its broken connection between a neighborhood’s desires and its investors' bottom line – seemed to the brothers illogical. Why couldn’t people in the community invest in real estate right next door? Why couldn’t the Millers raise money to purchase a property on H Street from the very people who live there? The neighborhood is a quirky mix of barbershops and hip beer gardens. It’s not the kind of place that investors from wealthy Chevy Chase, Maryland, quite get.
Hello Localist! Welcome to the December edition of our monthly newsletter, the place for all things Local and the best business strategies to connect with other leaders, share your success stories, and engage with the BALLE community. We are so excited about all of the activity across our community with Buy Local Campaigns happening during this holiday season. We hope your holidays are magical.
BALLE Live! Webinar Series
Community Capital: Tues, December 11, 2012, 10:00am PT : Invest Local Ohio: A Revolving Loan Fund Supporting Local Businesses Through Unaccredited Investors with Steve Fireman, General Council and President, Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI). Learn about this interesting revolving loan fund in Columbus that provides loans to small businesses... Read More | Register Now*
Local First: Thurs, December 13, 2012, 10:00am PT : Next Generation Local Purchasing: Jumpstarting Local Procurement by Anchor Institutions with Ted Howard, Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative, and Walter Wright, Project Director of the Greater University Circle Community Wealth Building Initiative, The Cleveland Foundation. Learn best practices from the architects of Cleveland's Evergreen Cooperatives: a unique approach to economic development encouraging anchor institutions to include locally owned businesses for large contracts... Read More | Register Now*
Can't attend? Don't worry, register and we’ll send you the link to the webinar recording and materials to view on your own time.
*Register for three or more webinars in any of our series and receive 20% off your total registration! For more information about pricing see our Member Benefits.
BALLE Fellow, Vicki Pozzebon, has founded a new Localist food-systems network called Delicious New Mexico to connect, nurture, and expand the New Mexico food business community. By building connections, and supporting innovation and best practices, Delicious New Mexico is facilitating collaboration between New Mexico food growers and suppliers to create a strong, sustainable regional food economy.
Welcome New BALLE Members! Abundance Cooperative Market • Raphael Souchier • Nancy Gottovi and Central Park NC • Jeanne Leckie and the Leckie Group • April Merrill and Coastal Mountain Creative • Sandy Wiggins • Nancy Bradley and RelyLocal
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN COMMUNITIES
What’s working for Localists in your town? Here’s a glimpse of some of the work that is happening in your communities.
Back-of-the-Napkin to Start Up
Long-time BALLE Conference attendee, Donna Isaacs, has launched a crowdfunding effort for a new venture based on her victorious entry from the 2012 BALLE Conference Back-of-the-Napkin Business Plan Competition. Named The Green Agora, Isaacs’ combination business incubator, food hub and local marketplace is the manifestation of her years of experiences in the BALLE community. Check out this interview with Donna on the Detroit Tour.
Local First Milwaukee is Happening Local First Milwaukee has taken the Localist movement to the next level in their community, with a new website that serves as a powerful information and resource hub for local businesses and community-members. Local First Milwaukee has also commissioned a new study from Civic Economics, adding more proof points to the case for buying local. Congrats!
It's an exciting time at BALLE as we're expanding our team to meet the growing interest in Localism. Check out our current job postings and apply, or send rock-star candidates our way!
Welcome New Staff
Welcome to Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, who will join the BALLE team in February, 2013 as our Director of Fellowship and Alumni. And we're thrilled that Pamela Chaloult has recently accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer for BALLE!
Have you signed up for the BALLE Blog? It's a great place to hear insightful ideas, newsworthy trends, and highlights and impacts from our partners, our Fellows, and Localists around the country. Check out our latest post featuring BALLE Live! webinar speaker and local procurement expert, Kimber Lanning's sure-fire tips for making the case for local suppliers to procurement pros. Read all about it and sign up now!
You can expect the Buzz to land in your mailbox the first week of each month. BALLE members should send 50-word submissions by the 15th of each month for inclusion in the next edition. We will do our best to include your item in the newsletter and/or on our website.
Our social media channels are humming with Localist action. Be sure to follow us on Facebook so that you don’t miss a beat. Remember that we’ve moved to /BeALocalist so like us there!
When the automaker released a list of factories it was closing during bankruptcy three years ago, communities that had considered themselves G.M.’s business partners were among the targets.
For years, mayors and governors anxious about local jobs had agreed to G.M.’s demands for cash rewards, free buildings, worker training and lucrative tax breaks. As late as 2007, the company was telling local officials that these sorts of incentives would “further G.M.’s strong relationship” with them and be a “win/win situation,” according to town council notes from one Michigan community.
Yet at least 50 properties on the 2009 liquidation list were in towns and states that had awarded incentives, adding up to billions in taxpayer dollars, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Some officials, desperate to keep G.M., offered more. Ohio was proposing a $56 million deal to save its Moraine plant, and Wisconsin, fighting for its Janesville factory, offered $153 million.
But their overtures were to no avail. G.M. walked away and, thanks to a federal bailout, is once again profitable. The towns have not been so fortunate, having spent scarce funds in exchange for thousands of jobs that no longer exist.
Yet across the country, companies have been doing just that. And the giveaways are adding up to a gigantic bill for taxpayers.
A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.
The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.
Our world is out of balance, and this imbalance shows up in countless ways: in our relationship to the natural environment, in our economic systems, in inequities between people, in our schools and communities.
The roots of the imbalance started long ago. So long that many just assume “this is how life is.” The Western concepts of Manifest Destiny and survival of the fittest have propelled us into a “race to the top,” with no end in sight. Should we believe that if a few win and everyone else loses, it is because the winners are morally and intellectually superior and the losers are weak? Should the interests of the few determine the fate of the planet?
This is not what we believe at the NoVo Foundation. We imagine a world that can become much more balanced, equitable, and sustainable. We are dedicated to helping catalyze this change.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The idea of building a year-round public market to tie the city’s skilled chefs to the region’s big complement of young farmers had already attained an air of inevitability by the time this Midwestern city held its first Restaurant Week three summers ago.
Next year, just in time for the fourth annual Restaurant Week, Grand Rapids is scheduled to open the $30 million, 130,000-square-foot Downtown Market, a destination that is expected to attract 500,000 visitors a year. The three-story brick and glass building, under construction in a neighborhood of vacant turn-of-the-20th century warehouses, is intended by its developers to be a state-of-the art center of commerce for the culinary arts and fresh local foods.
It is also seen as having the potential to accomplish much more.
In the spirit of using less fuel and supporting local farms and food artisans, we challenge you to try a 100-mile Thanksgiving. A 100-mile Thanksgiving uses ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of your dinner table. Think of it as an opportunity to celebrate local food, rather than an obligation to source every last ingredient from within 100 miles. Food miles, or the amount of miles a certain product has traveled to its final destination, are an important consideration when trying to reduce your carbon footprint and the amount of oil and gasoline used in making a meal.
"Buy American" is a great message. An even better one may be “Buy Marquette, Michigan.” Or “Buy Las Cruces, New Mexico.” Or “Buy Davidson, South Carolina.”
Entrepreneurs Laury Hammel and Judy Wicks launched the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) to inspire and support companies trying to keep transactions within their geographic communities. That can mean restaurants buying from local farmers; construction companies buying from local shingle manufacturers; or restaurants, farmers, construction companies and shingle makers teaming up to market to local consumers. Wicks and Hammel talked to Inc. Editor-at-Large Leigh Buchanan about their crusade to keep dollars and jobs at home.
LOCO BC, Salt Spring Coffee Co. Thirst First, UBC Golf Course and Recycling Alternative and Edible Canada sat down over breakfast this week to brainstorm ways they could all become local “zero heroes.”
Zero Heroes is a business waste reduction program launched by LOCO BC and sponsored by Salt Spring Coffee that aims to reduce individual business waste rates to less than 25%. Says Amy Robinson, founder of LOCO BC, “we don’t have all the answers when it comes to waste diversion, but at least we’re getting the conversation started.”
LOCO BC worked with Salt Spring Coffee to improve their waste management systems and Salt Spring now sends only 9% of material to the landfill or incinerator. Salt Spring Coffee was so happy with the results they decided to sponsor the Zero Heroes project.
Uprising Breads, W2 Café, University Golf Club, Momento Coffee House, Thirst First and Edible Canada are all participating in the Zero Hero pilot to reduce their waste and improve composting.
These local zero heroes are blazing the trail toward attaining Metro Vancouver’s solid waste goal of banning organic materials (food scraps) from landfills by 2015. Says Amy Robinson of the Zero Heroes program, “it provides businesses with real tools to drastically reduce their waste and associated greenhouse gas emissions.” Now that’s downright heroic.
The 2013 BALLE Conference in Buffalo, NY is coming up in June of 2013, and BALLE is looking for stellar and dynamic presenters on a wide range of Localist topics, including but not limited to those surrounding our Core Four:
How are local innovators increasing demand for locally owned, locally made, and locally grown businesses, goods and services? We are looking to showcase brilliant, new, and effective models, campaigns, policies and programs that expand business ownership opportunities to more people, and shift purchasing and procurement towards locals first.
The BALLE Conference is a great opportunity to share lessons learned from 'Do It Yourself' entrepreneurs, who make, grow and serve their communities through farming, manufacturing, energy, technology, and more. Showcasing the business models for economic self-reliance, we provide a national offering of Localist success stories. We want to feature the most innovative and pioneering models from entrepreneurs who are rethinking their industries.
Unleashing local money to finance healthy, diversified local economies is an essential part of the Localist movement. The BALLE Conference spreads promising new models in crowdfunding, community supported enterprise, triple bottom line banking, local investment clubs, and many more ways to connect your local businesses with local lenders, investors and donors. What is the next great movement or innovation in the world of community capital?
There is no such thing as a sustainable business in isolation, and movements gain momentum and scale when their leaders share ideas, coordinate action, and collectively advance a larger agenda. We want to feature the best models for linking local businesses together to leverage purchasing power, policy change, sustainable impact, marketing dollars and more. Sprouting up everywhere are new local business networks and many new models for of local collaboration. Help us find the best examples.
We are also committed to featuring presenters whose work advances Prosperity for All in the form of economic justice, opportunities for ownership in all communities, and the advancement of a more equitable economy.
And of course, we are always on the lookout for other new big innovations in the Localist movement that are doing essential, exciting, and pioneering work.
Jeff Milchen, co-founder, American Independent Business Alliance, 406-582-1255, amiba.net/contact
Alissa Barron, Managing Director, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), 240-317-2247, alissa [at] bealocalist.org
38,000 Local Businesses and National Independent Business Advocates Launch “Shift Your Shopping”
Saturday, November 3 marks the launch of Shift Your Shopping, the second annual collaborative holiday campaign among advocates for local independent business. Shift Your Shopping encourages citizens and businesses to make a “Shift” by buying from local independent businesses for the holiday season. More than 140 local business alliances across the U.S. and Canada, collectively representing more than 38,000 locally owned and independent businesses, are participating in the campaign.
ShiftYourShopping.org provides access to resources from multiple campaigns, including templates that allow anyone to spread the message easily in their community. All are welcome to use these tools to participate and make a direct impact where they live.
Shift Your Shopping is building a tradition that strengthens local economies, expands local employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding holiday shopping experience. The campaign offers a simple, powerful way to boost our economy and preserve and create jobs in our local communities.
Numerous studies quantifying the economic benefits of buying from local independent business have found impressive benefits. Just this month, Civic Economics released several new studies in individual cities, all of which showed locally-owned independent retailers returned three times or more money into their communities than chain competitors.
In addition, annual surveys over the last five years show that places that “go local” do better. For example, last year, the Institute for Local Self Reliance gathered data on annual revenue changes from 1768 independent business.
That data revealed independent businesses in communities executing long-term "buy local and independent" campaigns run by grassroots groups averaged a strong 7.2 percent increase over the previous year despite slow economic growth. This gain nearly tripled the 2.6 percent increase reported by independent businesses in areas lacking such campaigns.
Those “buy local” campaigns operated with support from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and/or American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), co-sponsors of Shift Your Shopping.
“This is the third year our region will participate in Shift Your Shopping and the buzz gets louder and louder,” said Jen Risley, Program Manager of Monadnock Buy Local based in Keene, NH. “We are reaching more citizens and empowering us all to rethink our shopping habits and make our spending work for our local economy.”
“We can create jobs and build our economy, locally and nationally, by investing in our communities through small businesses, healthy farms, and community banks,” said Michelle Long, executive director of BALLE. “When you spend money locally during the holidays, you are investing in the economic well-being of your community, your neighbors, and your family.”
AMIBA co-founder Jeff Milchen said, "More than ever, people recognize economic recovery will be built from the grassroots up and we all have a role to play with each purchase we make. By going local, we’re helping our communities as well as treating ourselves and the people we give gifts to a more personal and high-quality experience.”
Shift Your Shopping kicks off November 3 and extends through the holiday season to December 31. See ShiftYourShopping.org for stories of pro-local campaigns, templates for easy customization, a list of participating organizations, and to add your organization.