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Welcome 2018 Local Economy Fellows!

We are thrilled to announce and welcome our fifth cohort of 25 new BALLE Local Economy Fellows.

At BALLE we are consistently humbled and inspired by the incredible leaders in our network. Our new cohort of Local Economy Fellows is no exception.

We are excited to share our fifth cohort of BALLE Local Economy Fellows, 25 systems entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders who are pushing the boundaries of economic change and championing locally-based, regenerative rural enterprise. They are visionaries, innovators, and strategic connectors who are supporting and strengthening thousands of small businesses across the U.S. and Canada.

Not only are these leaders joining North America’s only Fellowship focused on advancing local economies; with the launch of this cohort, our Fellowship community will now include 101 individuals primarily from historically marginalized cities, indigenous communities, and rural populations, developing credible solutions in the face of isolation and lack of funding.

Our 2018 cohort illustrates the depth and complexity of the challenges facing rural, indigenous, and second-tier urban communities. With energy, creativity, and determination, they are promoting sustainable land use; advancing community development philanthropy; supporting indigenous social entrepreneurship; helping communities connect to the creative power of artists; advocating for disadvantaged farmers and ranchers; equipping rural entrepreneurs with the tools needed for success; and much, much more. In collaboration with their communities, our Fellows are at the forefront of building healthy, equitable local economies, underpinned by the regenerative capacity of the natural world around us.

“As a Fellow based in Baltimore I experienced the power of BALLE’s work up close, weaving together efforts across our urban ecosystem,” said Rodney Foxworth, the new executive director of BALLE. “I was so inspired to witness what that looks like in rural economies that are coming to life, in our Local Economy Accelerator last fall. A local Fellow was working in deep collaboration with local foundations and place-based impact investors, in communities and regions that are coming together to create a plan, and do the hard work of making progress together.”

For years, our Fellows have been working together to achieve incredible outcomes. Together this network is proving that when seemingly small, local efforts come together, it is possible to transform the economy toward one that works for all people. Here’s how: Local, independently owned businesses create quality jobs and stronger communities everywhere, at a faster clip than large corporations.

In 2014, independent businesses created nearly two million of the nearly three million private-sector jobs generated, or two out of three employment opportunities. Beyond that, each dollar that is spent with a local business has a multiplier effect as it recirculates within communities — creating more quality jobs and greater stability. Spending money locally matters. Fourteen jobs are created for every $10 million in consumer spending at Amazon, while 57 jobs are created for the same amount spent locally.

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is a completely unique immersive two-year experience that equips local economy innovators with leadership and capacity-building skills, a peer network of leaders and funders across North America, and a national platform illuminating their models for other communities. By building this network and offering a curriculum of transformative personal and professional development, BALLE aims to accelerate the emergence of healthy, equitable local economies.

“The Kendeda Fund supports the BALLE Fellowship program because it strengthens the collective actions of community leaders, and builds generative economic capacity in communities across the country. BALLE unlocks the innovation and creativity of its Fellows, and builds a supportive environment in which they grow, learn and thrive.” — Diane Ives, Kendeda Fund, Fund Advisor, People, Place and Planet program

Download a list of our 25 BALLE Local Economy Fellows here.