Local businesses, nonprofit organization, and residents are uniting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to bolster the local economy and build a more self-reliant community.
The Santa Fe Independent Business Community Alliance (SFIBCA) formed in December and has already attracted more than 370 members. About 60 percent of the members are independent businesses supplying a broad range of goods and services: bookstores, pharmacies, banks, radio stations, auto repair shops, accountants, printers, builders, beauty salons, and physicians. The remaining members are community organizations and individual residents.
SFIBCA grew out of meetings held last fall by a handful of residents and business owners concerned about the growing power of multinational corporations and New Mexico’s high poverty rate. The group aims to address both problems by encouraging residents to support locally owned businesses and banks.
"The reason large national corporations have a lot of power and influence is that citizens have given them their money through investments and patronage," asserts Richard Johnson, a founding member of SFIBCA and owner of Ad Ventures. "It’s time to stop supporting the large corporations and keep the power locally."
Shopping locally will improve the economic well-being of residents and the community, explains SFIBCA’s introductory flyer. Compared to chains, local businesses employ more people and recycle a larger percentage of their revenue back into the local economy.
SFIBCA has a two-pronged strategy. One is public education. Members sport window decals and bumper stickers that identify businesses as independently owned and urge residents to "support sustainable community." The group has also begun running print advertisements in newspapers and magazines. The first ad reminds readers, "Every consumer choice we make is a political act," and draws a link between local trade and global peace.
In a few weeks, SFIBCA will publish 15,000 copies of a 60-page directory of local businesses. The directory will include about 200 businesses and will be sprinkled with messages about why it’s important to support the local economy. "We want someone who has never thought about this to be able to pick it up and say, ‘I like that idea. I want to support my neighbor,’" explains Tom Knoblauch, an SFIBCA member and owner of Paint by Words.
The second prong is to encourage independent businesses to share ideas and strategies, and to buys goods and services from one another. Many businesses offer discounts to other SFIBCA members, as well as employees.
SFIBCA’s suggested membership fee is $50. Many businesses have contributed more, while low-income residents are welcome to join for as little as $1. To date, SFIBCA has raised $20,000.
SFIBCA is part of a national network of independent business alliances (IBAs) called the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). AMIBA helps communities create IBAs and provides resources and tools to assist established IBAs.
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