What a day! NELBF’s 10th Gathering a breakthrough

The 10th gathering of the New England Local Business Forum was, in a word, spectacular.  We graciously thank our hosts, Seacoast Local, and our sponsor for the gathering, Main and Me.

We thank the over 50 local economy leaders who able to attend, and for those who couldn’t make it, here’s a recap of our amazing day.

Michael Shuman Addresses the NELEN Gathering Participants in Portsmouth

Michael Shuman Addresses the NELEN Gathering Participants in Portsmouth

Our morning session welcomed a trio of phenomenal speakers.  Michael Shuman started us off by detailing 20 different innovations and steps that New England could create by 2020.  There was a great deal of energy around self-directed IRA’s, as a way to put our retirement savings to work in the local economy.

Stacy Mitchell then discussed both the advances, and the challenges, we’ve seen in the local retail and banking environments, along with new challenges from online corporations like Amazon.  Stacy also, however, outlined specific policies and approaches that might allow us to properly level the playing field for Main Street businesses.  Stacy set out a bold vision of putting an end $275 in government subsidies for flawed development approaches and putting that money to work supporting local economies.

The final speaker of the morning, Cheryl King Fischer, gave a terrific overview of work happening across New England to increase both local food production and purchasing.  We were then blessed to hear more about the amazing work happening in and around Hardwick, Vermont and how that advancement of their local food system can serve as a model to increase production and purchasing of local food and to create jobs and support the regional New England economy.

As we started the afternoon session, we turned our focus to building and strengthening our local networks.  With 16 local networks in attendance, from 5 of the 6 states in New England, we had wide and terrific participation.

We worked to build our strategy for Shift Your Shopping and to make it our best collaborative holiday campaign yet.  We dealt with a major challenge for local networks, generating sustainable funding, and identified new ways we can work together to get much needed resources into this work.

Laury Hammel gave a great overview of how to build more effective boards and retain good board members in local networks, and we closed with small breakout groups working on connecting our work to the larger movement, fundraising, board development and working on monthly or quarterly Shift themes throughout the year.

We closed, as usual, with a cheer and with a group of energized and inspired participants.  We can’t wait to see what game changing advancements happen from yet another convening of some of New England’s best local and regional economy leaders.

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