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New Friends, Ideas and Fun at Tampa Conference

AMIBA’s 2010 conference in Tampa brought together business owners, public officials, localization advocates and leaders of Independent Business Alliances, for three days of learning, fun and relationship-building. In addition to many excellent presentations and panels (thanks to all of you who volunteered your time!), the Quorum hotel staff exceeded all expectations with exceptional service, many locally-produced foods and fabulous presentation. We're already hearing how some sessions sparked action upon return home.

A sampling of presentations, material provided at the conference and photos are posted here. Since participants pushed us to make the conference an annual event, we'll soon send out a request for proposals to host a potential 2011 conference.

Also, AMIBA principals were featured speakers at three conferences during May and recommended each event for quite different offerings: the annual National Main Streets Conference in Oklahoma City, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies' annual conference in Charleston, SC and the bi-annual Grassroots and Groundwork in Portland, OR.

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News, Tools & Tips

Summit IBA Creates Simple Tool to Provide Feedback for Business Owners. The Summit Independent Business Alliance (CO) now enables members to get criticism they otherwise may never receive, and may provide some great testimonials. Their simple new online feedback form asks customers to send brief evaluations of their experience at member businesses. In addition to serving members, a tool like this could help ensure your logo and brand stand for quality and value as well as local and independent.

Go Beyond the Obvious Suspects for Membership!
When recruiting local independent business for your organization, keep an open mind. AMIBA affiliates have garnered support from members like: The Saint Paul Saints, minor league baseball team (MetroIBA), MidWest DNA & Drug Testing, (Capital Area IBA in Springfield, IL), the Oakland Jazz Choir (Oakland Grown) and the Lone Star Rollergirls roller derby team (Austin IBA).

Go Oak Cliff in Dallas took community planning and design into their own hands April 10-11 with sensational results. Providing their own materials and labor, local residents transformed two blocks of a thoroughfare that sped cars through their neighborhood into a temporary oasis for outdoor dining, socializing and more. Now, open-minded local officials are recognizing citizens can be real experts and seek to make the demonstration project permanent. The Dallas Observer reports here and here (with lengthy video).

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Record Store Day Yields Big Boost for Indie Music Stores
Much like Independents Week, Record Store Day is an annual campaign to raise awareness of how indie music stores serve musicians, music lovers and communities. Here's a report on the impressive numbers from April's event.

The Power of Branding
When you need a 4-minute diversion, check out this amusing and instructive lesson about the power of branding -- one of the most important benefits your group can offer members.

Resources for Starting a Local Banking Campaign is the newest toolkit created by the New Rules Project, whose Hometown Advantage Bulletin is a great free resource.

The Latest Free Outreach Tool from AMIBA

Our bag stuffers have been so popular that we were provoked to adapt the idea for non-storefront businesses. You can view and download our new template for businesses that send billing statements or other mailings (the 2.75" x 8.5" size fits #9 and #10 envelopes), along with other free outreach tools.

Bag or billing statement stuffers may be printed as-is from our template or, if you'd like to include your business' or groups' name and logo, we will customize it for a nominal fee to cover design time. Also, next month we'll adapt and post all eight messages as individual .gif files for those who would like to employ this tool in emailed invoices, newsletters, etc. Printed mailing stuffers also will be an option in lieu of bag stuffers for our "Buy Local in a Box" kit (details here).

Envelope Stuffer Sample

One of eight back sides shown -- see template for front.

Welcome to the Newest AMIBA affiliates:

Local First of Greater Pocatello (Idaho)
We Are Athens (Georgia)
Downtown Chestertown Association (Maryland)
Buy Local Blue Ridge (Ruckersville area, Virginia)

We're excited to see more communities like Chestertown and Ruckersville recognize Independent Business Alliances can benefit rural areas as much as larger towns and cities, and we're thrilled to have both Idaho and Georgia launching their first IBAs!

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Salt Lake City, Louisville Turn Independents Week into a Party!

As communities send us their plans for the sixth annual Independents Week celebration, Local First Utah and the Louisville IBA (KY) stood out for their festive approaches. Fresh off hosting a Buy Local Fair last weekend, LIBA will host the second Louisville Brewfest to kick off Indie Week and the release of its newest directory. Thousands of “I Bought Local Today” stickers will be offered by member businesses throughout the week and a public forum is in the works.

Meanwhile Local First Utah is competing hard for the best Indie Week party award. After bringing in Stacy Mitchell to speak and kick off the week on June 24, they'll host multiple nights of music, arts and the IndepenDance Party. (While our templates present the week as July 1-7 to keep them timeless, actual dates of local events vary).

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Click here for a menu of the free Independents Week tools and templates AMIBA provides to help you generate attention for your organization and members, or start with this introductory primer (pdf).

Independent Business Alliances in the News

Kevin Coggins of Shop Local Raleigh wrote in the News-Observer on the importance of local ownership when community entities make purchasing and contracting decisions. Letters to the editor are an important tool that should be employed year-round (affiliates can refer to our primer on effective letters and get our assistance with research and editing).

The Austin IBA has made itself the go-to source for media on independent business issues, as this television news report demonstrates. Make this a goal for your group!

Opportunities to Meet Your Regional Peers...

In the past several weeks AMIBA has facilitated regional gatherings in Northern California, Colorado, and the Northwest U.S. These events have united leaders of IBAs, BALLE groups, Main Street programs, microenterprise groups, public officials and people developing new organizations or Buy Local campaigns. Participants get acquainted with peers, share tools and ideas, and make initial steps toward cooperative work to make a bigger impact in their communities and beyond.

Based on the enthusiastic response thus far, we'll be planning more gatherings this year, largely based on the instigation of those volunteering to host an event in their region. Here's a sample overview and agenda from the first such event. Big thanks to the hosts of the pilot gatherings: Oakland Grown, Mile High Business Alliance and Sustainable Business Alliance of Portland.

...and Bring AMIBA Speakers to Your Community

When regional gatherings or planned speaking engagements create available dates, we can minimize costs for community presentations or workshops by combining events on a regional tour. Upcoming opportunities include Aug 17 and 19 within the Great Lakes region and Nov. 16-18 in the Gulf states + Southern Appalachia. A tour also will be scheduled in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic between those two trips. Contact us ASAP if you have a scheduling preference and we'll do our best to accommodate it. Contact us for details on presentations, intensive workshops (strongly recommended for those launching new Alliances or Buy Local campaigns) or regional gatherings.

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Help Us Help You Improve Your Website

Tell us what your organization's website does especially well. We'll compile a collection of the best functionality, imagery, blog integration, member resources, etc. in the June newsletter to enable you to steal the best ideas from each other. Submissions from AMIBA members with their affiliation decal (right) as a site-wide insert will be entered into a special prize drawing, but all groups are encouraged to pitch your website to us.

Share, Subscribe

Consider forwarding this news to others in your organization or community (use forwarding link below). The more people are getting useful news and tools, the more local action is likely to occur. If you are viewing this alert online or via forwarding and like what you see, click here to get our free monthly bulletin delivered to your inbox.

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