\”Place matters\” in building vibrant economies



Take note trend watchers: Small businesses are creating more new jobs, greater per capita income growth and give back more to their communities than their larger counterparts. This June, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and local host Sustainable Connections are bringing together a national community of socially responsible, small business owners and thought leaders to create meaningful economic change at the grassroots level. Hundreds of entrepreneurs, business network leaders, economic developers, sustainability experts, and local government and community leaders will gather at the 9th Annual BALLE Business Conference to explore new practices in growing community health and wealth and share tested models for social entrepreneurship and local economic development. The conference website is: http://www.livingeconomies.org/conference-2011.

The conference, themed \”Place Matters,\” will include more than 80 speakers, 10 plenaries, 24 interactive sessions, 3 intensive pre-workshops, 4 \’living economy\’ tours, and a variety of networking and social events. It runs Tuesday, June 14 to Friday, June 17 in Bellingham, WA, chosen as the conference site because it showcases how local, sustainable businesses can build economic vitality.

The underlying message to attendees is \”Place Matters in Building Vibrant Economies,\” because businesses rooted in \’place\’ help build local self-reliance, mobilize local resources for local jobs, and operate with a triple bottom line that includes profitability as well as community and environment. The conference program will give participants the inspiration, guidance and tools needed to address issues facing communities and to encourage local economic development. \”BALLE showcases and connects leading entrepreneurs, investors and local innovators – whatever their field – who are trailblazing a new economy that is sustainable and locally based, and this conference will harness and focus those efforts,\” said executive director Michelle Long. \”The conference is led by businesses – the entrepreneurs and innovators that are building our homes, growing and distributing our food, and powering our lives.\”

\”The evidence is clear: The most cost-effective ways to create jobs is to nurture local small business. These are also the best businesses for communities interested in creating walk-able communities, reducing their carbon footprints, addressing inequality, and revitalizing civic life. Fortunately, a growing number of policymakers – national, state, and local – understand that the new cornerstone for economic development should be local living economies,\” said Michael Shuman, research and economic development director at BALLE and author of The Small-Mart Revolution and Going Local.