When national big-box chains enter a small market, the local businesses tend to suffer. While these chains claim to improve local life by bringing more goods at lower prices, they often have a negative effect in that businesses that had previously served that market go under. This is the so-called Wal-Mart Effect.
BALLE, then, is a voluntary business organization that seeks to mediate this effect by strengthening local, independent businesses. To this end, they convened their New Economy Roundtable. I asked Robert, who's fairly new to blogging, to sum up the basics of the workshops:
There is a movement afoot to transform the economic system in America as a “whole system” that improves the well being of more people from all walks of life, ethnicities, and income levels. BALLE's newest multi-organization collaboration, called the New Economy Roundtable, has been organized as an open network and platform for change. This is an action-oriented movement. As one participant put it, “we will organize ourselves into an 'overwhelming force' (like the Marines).”
Thirty organizations gathered in DC for the half-day summit and approached these four tasks:
- Sharpen the vision
- Identify member practices (such as community capital) requisite to creating the new system
- Prioritize initiatives to take action on two fronts. Priorities can be policy, practice, or mobilization of constituents:
- Start now priorities and get results within 6 months --”Green Energy Victory Bonds.”
- Start now and get results longer term such as “Create a Common Investment Fund.”
- Organize for action without creating a new organization; rather, combine a network and platform for action
Members of the Collaboration include: Ashoka, Boston College Institute for Responsible Investment, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Calvert Foundation, Grameen Foundation, Green for All (formerly Coop America), Investors Circle, National Community Development Institute, Social Enterprise Alliance, and Social Investment Forum.
As this effort progresses, we'll try to keep you up-to-date. Check back later in the spring for more info. Also, we'll be starting a Local Economy conversation with Providence & Beyond 2009, see here for more details