An Independent Business Alliance® works to build vital local economies based on independent, locally-owned businesses and help local entrepreneurs compete successfully against chains, online competitors and others.

IBAs unite locally-owned independent businesses, citizens and community organizations to achieve this goal through initiatives within these realms:

  PUBLIC EDUCATION
IBAs educate about the greater overall value local independents often can provide (even when they’re not the cheapest) as well as the vital economic, social and cultural role independent businesses play in the community.

   FACILITATING COOPERATIVE PROMOTION, ADVERTISING, PURCHASING & SHARING OF SKILLS & RESOURCES
IBAs use these and other activities to help local businesses gain economies of scale and compete more effectively.

   CREATING A STRONG AND UNCOMPROMISED VOICE
IBAs create a strong and uncompromised voice to speak for local independents in the local government and media while engaging citizens in guiding the future of their community through democratic action.

   ENHANCING OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL INVESTMENT, BANKING & ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS

 

What is a Local Independent Business?

When people are deciding which businesses should be recruited for membership in an Independent Business Alliance® or participation in a Local First / Buy Local campaign, they often ask how to define a local and independent business. Local officials also seek criteria for wording policies to support local entrepreneurs in various forms. We offer this as a starting point for your local discussion.

  PRIVATE, WORKER, COOPERATIVE, OR COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP

  AT LEAST 50% OF BUSINESS IS LOCALLY OWNED
Your definition of the geographic area considered “local” should be a group decision based on multiple factors. We’ll gladly offer guidance upon request;

  DECISION-MAKING AUTHORITY IS VESTED IN THE LOCAL OWNERS 
Authority not subject to conditions dictated remotely. Note that using this definition effectively excludes franchises. If this concerns anyone you work with, we invite you to contact us to discuss how to work effectively with local franchisees;

  THE BUSINESS HAS A LIMITED NUMBER OF OUTLETS AND GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
A single-digit number generally is recommended, but ask us about your situation. For example, in urban areas, community banks and credit unions may need many outlets to compete successfully.

Whether you’re looking to launch a coalition of independent businesses and community advocates or start with just a “buy local” campaign, we suggest taking these steps:

   CONTACT US
Connect with us to see if others from your community already have contacted us or if your organization would be able to affiliate.

   GET HARD COPIES OF BUY LOCAL CAMPAIGNS THAT SHIFT CULTURE AND SPENDING
Give these to prospective supporters — particularly those who are good candidates for an initial steering committee. Include local business owners, citizens and community organizations in your initial recruitment efforts!

   SUBMIT AN OP-ED OR LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Engage your local paper indicating your plans. Such a column or letter can draw out numerous potential allies. You can use one of AMIBA’s templates to localize and submit as a co-written article. Contact us for help in crafting your letter to generate maximum response or for samples.

   HOST A PRESENTATION
Your effort gains instant credibility when your audience recognizes a national movement is afoot. Compelling success stories from IBAs around the country will inspire folks to action.

   OPERATE AS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION
Perception matters. Operating as a non-profit will place your group’s focus on helping the community and its independent business core. A for-profit business’ profit goes into the owner’s pocket, while a non-profit organization’s is reinvested into the organization.

Non-profit organizations don’t function solely on volunteers – they can have paid staff and provide employee benefits.

AMIBA Affiliation benefits are offered to:

   Interested chambers of commerce

   Main Street programs and other groups

   Cities and towns opting to form a new entity or campaign name

Contact us for guidance in helping determine your definitions, criteria and name — we can save you valuable time and help avoid problems.

NOTE: Adopting this criteria does not mean other businesses can’t support your work (ask us for details).

Independent Business Alliance® is a registered mark of AMIBA and only AMIBA affiliates may use the word sequence in their name.

CORRECT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
Independent Business Alliances

If you wish to include other groups that are based on the IBA model in writing, please use a generic phrase such as “local business coalition.”