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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Celebrating independents

BaBB, Chamber, AMIBA launch Independents Week

BRATTLEBORO—What would Brattleboro be without downtown?

Or your favorite local mechanic, carpenter, accountant, corner store, or restaurant?

Would it still be 100 percent Brattleboro?

Just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations, the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Building a Better Brattleboro, and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) announce Independents Week, July 1-7.

The organizations hope to focus consumers’ attention on the role local, independent businesses play in the economy and character of their home community.

“It’s a time to reflect on the importance of economic democracy and community self-determination by celebrating the nation’s locally owned independent businesses and the stake each citizen has in shaping their home town’s future,” stated AMIBA director Jennifer Rockne.

AMIBA is a Colorado-based organization focused on helping communities start independent business alliances (IBA). These alliances help support entrepreneurs and aim to create a stronger, local economies.

“We have a reason to celebrate — these friends and neighbors embody the spirit of entrepreneurism and individuality in our community. Our citizens are integral to ensuring we keep these businesses that help define who we are and contribute to our sense of place,” said Andrea Livermore, Executive Director of BaBB.

Livermore said local businesses “exemplify the uniqueness of Brattleboro.”

According to AMIBA, dollars funneled to a local business recirculate within the economy, typically causing a multiplier effect of three times compared to chain businesses. In 2003, an IBA in Austin, Texas, conducted an economic impact study that determined for every $100 spent at chain bookstores, $13 stayed local. The recirculating amount jumped to $45 when the $100 went to a local bookstore.

A 2011 study by the Maine Center for Economic Policy found that, in Portland, independent businesses had a greater economic impact. Locally owned businesses contributed an additional $58 to Portland’s economy over the chain store’s $33.

Livermore said that spending money locally lends a big piece to the economic pie. But, she added, a vibrant downtown also adds to the community’s identity.

Local businesses offer a more diverse choice of products tailored to their community’s needs, she said. In general, chain stores — adding that some are great — provide a “rubber stamp experience, and I don’t think that’s what we’re about.”

Owners of local businesses also hire local contractors for repairs, local accountants at tax time, their employees from the area towns, and pay local property taxes, she said.

Residents don’t have to shop entirely in Brattleboro, Livermore said, but she hoped they would think twice before sending their money away from town.

Similar organizations and communities nationwide will participate in Independents Week, she said.

Independents Week continues the Chamber and BaBB’s buy local effort launched during December 2011, “Keep it Here all Year.”

“This week is really a kick-off to some great promotions that will be happening all around town throughout the summer,” added Livermore.

“Nothing beats Brattleboro’s ’destination’ downtown,” added Jerry Goldberg, Executive Director of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce. “Yet there are great independent businesses throughout Greater Brattleboro — shops, eateries, lodgings — that add immeasurably to that ‘spirit of entrepreneurism and individuality in our community’ that Andrea mentioned. This is a week for all to be celebrated — and thanked.”

For updates on events and promotions in downtown Brattleboro, follow facebook.com/DowntownBrattleboro.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #159 (Wednesday, July 4, 2012).

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