The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is a two-year program designed for leaders who are advancing the development of healthy, equitable local economies. Local Economy Fellows are selected based on their vision, their leadership, and their role as strategic connectors, supporters, and influencers of local entrepreneurs and their businesses. Whether leading entrepreneur networks, community business incubators, or regional economic development initiatives, they are practical champions of new ways of doing business and organizing economies that work for all. Learn more about our 2018 Fellows focused on building rural economies here.

The immersive program connects leaders with their peers, equips them with new skills, perspectives, and resources to help advance their work, and provides a platform to share experiments and models so that other regions can learn from them.

Through the Local Economy Fellowship and its other communities of practice, BALLE plans to connect, nourish, and illuminate 250 communities across North America that are investing in the people and businesses in their place to grow local economies from within, and with an explicit focus on values like racial equity, economic justice, public health, and environmental sustainability.

About Our Fellows

BALLE Local Economy Fellows.

BALLE Local Economy Fellows.

BALLE Local Economy Fellows are natural leaders. They come from all walks of life, are skilled conveners, and have tremendous pride in the places where they live and work. They employ hands-on strategies to grow healthier and more equitable local economies and to bring this kind of “new economy” into the mainstream.

Prior to joining the program, BALLE Fellows are already exceptional leaders in their own right. In the fellowship, leaders reflect on, share, and advance their work alongside like-minded peers, and weave a network of mutual support and collaboration. Upon completion, Fellows emerge stronger, more supported, and more impactful.

Collective Reach

As of the launch of our fifth cohort of Fellows in March 2018, 101 BALLE Fellows (2011-2016) represent communities in 43 states and provinces, and directly serve 121,650 small businesses. We estimate that they impact more than 1.5 million small businesses through related work in policy, and that in total they reach more than two million people through their communications channels.

Given what we know about the power of small businesses in North America – they are proven to increase local civic engagement, create 60-90 percent of net new jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and represent about half of U.S. and Canadian GDP (about $9.5 trillion) – it is no exaggeration to say that these leaders are transforming the bedrock of our economy.

“We need to fundamentally rethink our economic system. That’s why our partnership with BALLE to identify, connect, nourish, and illuminate today’s top local economy leaders is a key part of our strategy.”
—Jennifer Buffett, NoVo Foundation

Interested in the BALLE Local Economy Fellowship or know someone who’d make a great Fellow?

We have closed applications for the 2018 Fellowship. Applications for the 2020 cohort will open in early 2019. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the fellowship recruitment process and other BALLE news.  If you have suggestions for folks who would make great fellows, we’d love to hear from you — please email us at

“The value the BALLE Fellowship brings is immeasurable.” – James Johnson-Piett, BALLE Fellow