Accelerate Collaboration

One thing is clear – entrepreneurship is not a solo sport. Effective ‘backbone organizations’ are crucial to build hubs of local economy innovation. Whether a social enterprise acceleratorlocal first alliance, community business network, food lab, or technical assistance hub, success comes from investing in backbone organizations that are convening and strengthening community entrepreneurs around real prosperity. It comes from building infrastructure that innovators can share to create their own economies of scale. Through distribution hubs, grain mills, canneries, craft and maker labs, human-scale factories and co-working spaces, costs, information and resources are seamlessly being shared and community is being built along the way.

LocalWorks_LowcountryLocalFirstLow Country Local First's co-working space in Charleston, SC run by BALLE Fellow Jamee Haley.

Low Country Local First’s co-working space in Charleston, SC run by BALLE Fellow Jamee Haley.


Additional Resources

  • Identifying & Leveraging Partnerships Through Backbone Organizations Webinar– Kelly Ramirez, Donovan Wollard, D’Artagnan Scorza
  • Looking for inspiration? Look no further than the BALLE Local Economy Fellows. Innovation for good is exactly what they do, day in and day out. Each BALLE Fellow is selected based on their vision, their leadership, and their role as a strategic connector representing, convening, and influencing hundreds or thousands of community entrepreneurs. Whether leading local social enterprise incubators, community business networks, or regional food labs, they are all pioneering champions of a new economic vision.
  • Watch the “Sustainable Communities” episode of PBS’s Fixing the Future series, featuring BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long. Want to start a network like the one she describes? Here are ten steps to get you started.
  • In every sector, Localist businesses are innovating:
    • Manufacturing: TS Designs models the BALLE principle ‘Place Matters.’ The company has woven together a North Carolina-based value chain called Cotton of the Carolinas, under the slogan “Dirt to Shirt in 600 Miles.” Download the full case study.
    • Retail: Watch the Zingerman’s: This is Ownership video and read the Zingerman’s case study.
    • Finance:RSF Social Finance models the BALLE principle ‘Relationships Matter.’ For example, it brings together its investors and borrowers in a participatory process to set the interest rate called “RSF Prime.” Download the full case RSF case study.