NELEN To Convene A Deep Dive for Fall 2013 Gathering

The NELEN Fall Gathering Organizing Committee is pleased to announce an exciting new format and opportunity for our Fall Gathering, taking place in Dover, NH on Thursday, September 26th.

In partnership with the American Independent Business Alliance, NELEN will be offering an opportunity for networks to “go deep” to take the next step in growth and development for their organization.

As opposed to previous gatherings, where we have convened speakers and had workshops to discuss our organizations, our intention this time is to develop specific plans for your organizations to take back home that will help your network move to the next level.

In order to ensure commitment from attendees, we will be asking that all participants bring at least one board member and their staff member for the full day (two board members if no staff member is in place)

NELEN 2013 Fall Gatehring Agenda
9:30 – Opening & Welcome
10:00 – Shift your Shopping - An overview of the collaborative campaign and how this structure can be used as a lever to consider for plans made throughout the gathering.
11:00 – Break Out Group 1 (Fund Development & Membership)
11:30 – Break Out Group 2  (Program Development & Events)
12:00 – Lunch
12:30 – Break Out Group 3 (Advocating for Policy & Board Development)
1:00 – Mentoring sessions – 2 break out groups of 4 networks each will spend 20 minutes on each network and their specific needs
2:30 – Closing Process
3:00 – Adjourn

We look forward to taking another key step towards building strong local business organizations across New England on 9/26 with you!

Thank you to American Express OPEN for helping make this event possible for The New England Local Economy Network.
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The 11th New England Local Economy Regional Gathering (and First NELEN Gathering) a Success!

Thanks to all who attended the latest New England gathering of local economy advocates and organizers, held at Arts at the Armory in Somerville MA.  We were thrilled to have representatives from the following networks and organizations present:

  • American Independent Business Alliance (AMBIA)
  • Belknap Independent Business Alliance
  • Belmont/Watertown Local First
  • Brookline Local First
  • Cambridge Local First
  • JP Local First
  • Nearby Registry
  • Pioneer Valley Local First
  • Seacoast Local
  • Somerville Local First
  • Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts
  • The Elephant Walk Restaurant
  • The People’s Pint
  • Waltham Local First (A potential organization)

We saw great presentations from Joe Grafton of AMIBA, Alden Booth of the People’s Pint which were inspiritng and laid out a vision for both network development and growth and operating a business with people, the community and the planet as a priority.

We also did great work together to go deep on Board Development, Loyalty Programs, Strengthening our Messaging in the Community and Developing a Playbook for approaching large sponsors for our organizations.

We look forward to our fall gathering, likely to be held in Portsmouth in September.

Please sign up for our email list above to stay up to date on all the latest news from NELEN.

The NELEN Steering Committee

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Register for the Spring 2013 NELEN Gathering

Join NELEN for a regional gathering of Local Economy Leaders on May 31st

Register Now!

When:  Friday, May 31st

Where:  Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville MA

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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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New England 20/20 – Register Now!

What Will New England Look Like in 2020? Find out on October 5th!

Join Local Economy Leaders from Across New England as we envision our region’s economy in 2020 and make plans to get there

The 9th regional gathering of the New England Local Business Forum will take place on Friday, October 5th in Portsmouth, NH. The morning session will feature noted speakers and leaders in the local economy movement and the afternoon will focus on local business network development and programs.

Noted economist, author and speaker Michael Shuman will deliver the keynote address for the gathering, and will be sharing  a presentation where he envisions what the regional economy in New England might look like in 2020, and how we might get there.

Michael will be followed by one of the treasures of our movement, author & Institute for Local Self-Reliance senior researcher Stacy Mitchell.  Stacy will be discussing the state and future of independent retail in New England. Where independent retail is today, looking at factors that have resulted in consolidation to big box stores while also sharing hopeful messages about how local business networks have started to reverse the trend. Stacy will lay out a vision for where the retail environment could be in 2020 and how local economy leaders might help achieve those goals.

Register below to be a part of this great event!

Agenda (Subject to change)

8:30 –  9:30    Breakfast & Networking

9:30  –  10:00   Introductions & Welcome

10:00 – 10:45 – Keynote Address with Q&A – Michael Shuman, Author Local Dollars, Local Sense

10:45 – 11:30 – Keynote Address with Q&A  – Stacy Mitchell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Author of Big Box Swindle

11:30 –  12:15 – Keynote Address with Q&A  – Cheryl King Fischer – Executive Director, New England Grassroots Environment Fund

12:15 – 12:30     Closing

12:30 – 1:30     Lunch (for Afternoon session attendees)

1:30  –  4:00  –  Working groups to build local networks, including a focus on Shift Your Shopping in New England in 2012

Register Now!

When:  Friday, October 5th

Where:  Portsmouth Public Library, Portsmouth NH

Session Options
Did your local business network contribute to NELEN in 2012?

***Note: If your network contributed to NELEN this year, we will refund $5 per ticket shortly after your purchase. This event is being organized by the New England Local Business Forum and hosted by Seacoast Local

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SAVE THE DATE! Next NELBF Regional Gathering to be held on Friday 10/5/12 in Portsmouth, NH

We are excited to announce the date & location for our next regional gathering.  We are currently working to design the program, but are working with the following general concept:

  • The morning will include widely recognized local economy leaders/speakers who will clarify what it means to transform our regional economy over the next decade, share models we can learn from, identify the steps needed to get there and articulate the benefits to our communities.
  • The afternoon will be focused on network development and capacity building as well as our Shift Your Shopping collaboration this year.

We would really like to hear from you!  If you are a local network staff or board leader, what type of learning/work would you like to do with your fellow network leaders?  Please fill out this survey to help us direct our programming to where your needs are!

If you have questions or ideas about your industry can support this movement, please contact us.

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Recap of the Spring 2012 NELBF Regional Gathering

Michael Shuman address the NELEN

The 2012 Spring Gathering of the NELEN (our eighth Gathering) was our most successful yet. Over 65 attendees representing five states, 15 local networks, and representatives from key partner industries were engaged in a series of dynamic presentations and conversations about how we can grow the regional and local economy in New England. We want to give a shout-out to representatives from three new local business networks in Massachusetts–Brookline Local First, Watertown Local First, and Needham Local First and Westbrook Buy Local from Maine who attended their first NELEN gathering this Spring.

We’d like to thank our Co-Sponsors, The New England Independent Booksellers Association and our keynote speaker, Michael Shuman, and all our presenters and panelists for their spectacular contributions to the day.

Here are a just a few examples of the ideas and action items that resulted from this dynamic gathering of local business leaders:

  • Michael Shuman kicked off the Gathering with a presentation that offered in a cogent and inspiring manner, the key points of his latest work–Local Dollars, Local Sense. He made the case with indisputable evidence for why we need to grow a strong regional/local economy and the importance of moving capital from multi-national corporations and into the hands of local entrepreneurs.
  • We were joined by key industry partners in the American Booksellers Association and The New England Booksellers Assocition, as well as the Mass Retailers Association.
  • Local business owners, trade association leaders and local network leaders identified new strategies and approaches to grow the local economy movement, including the idea of Shift Themes to be used throughout the year, proposed by Dave Boynton of Seacoast Local.
  • We discussed eFairness, and are excited to see the momentum for this important change grow. Check out the op-ed written by Massachusetts Treasurer, and SBN Sustainability Leadership Summit Keynote Speaker, Steve Grossman on the issue.
  • We continued to plan for the New England Shift Your Shopping campaign for 2012, and this will be one of the major themes at the coming fall Gathering.

The NELEN Steering Committee is currently working on creating another breakthrough NELEN Gathering this fall (our 9th Gathering), and we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the potential to build the Local Economy Movement and to grow the New England Economy. See the Save the Date announcement here.

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Spring Forward Toward Local Economies Friday, May 4th in historic Harvard Square

Join Local Economy Leaders from Across New England!

Join Local Economy Leaders from Across New England!

The next regional gathering of the New England Local Business Forum will take place on Friday, May 4th in historic Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

Noted economist, author and speaker Michael Shuman will deliver the keynote address for the gathering, and will be discussing his latest book: Local Dollars, Local Sense, and the importance of community investing.

We welcome, NEIBA, our co-sponsors

Our 8th gathering, co-sponsored by the New England Independent Booksellers Association, will bring together key industry partners in the book, bike and toy industry to greater connect our efforts year round and in the holiday season.  We will also have a keynote address from a  prominent speaker on local economies and a series of panels and workshops.

Register below to be a part of this great event!

Our view for the day, overlooking historic Harvard Square!

Our view for the day, overlooking historic Harvard Square!

Agenda (Subject to change)

8:30 –  9:30    Breakfast & Networking

9:30  –  10:00   Introductions & Welcome

10:00 – 10:30 – Keynote Address – Michael Shuman, Author Local Dollars, Local Sense

10:30 – 10:45 – Break

10:45 –  11:30 Speaker/Breakout – Spreading the Local Message – New Collaborations with Trade Association Leaders and Buy Local Networks

Moderator: Stacy Mitchell
Panelists: Joy Dallanegra-Sanger (American Booksellers Association), Karen Marlzoff (Seacoast Local), Sally Lesser (Henry Bears Park – Toy Stores)

The country is going local. With the strengthening and growth of local business networks and trade associations, how can these groups collaborate to support member businesses and grow sustainable local economies? And how can businesses leverage this work to grow their own business?

Panelists will discuss existing campaigns and programs, explore potential partnerships, and offer their own unique perspective on the local movement.

11:45 – 12:30    Sales Tax Fairness – Competing with and communicating about online sales tax issues

Moderator: Frank Kramer.
Panelists: Bill Rennie (Mass Retailers Association), Dave Grogan (American Booksellers Association),

How do local businesses compete with online businesses that don’t collect sales tax? Hear about what is being done to level the playing field, how local businesses can get engaged in the subject and how local business networks might work to bring attention to this local economy threat.

12:30 – 1:30     Lunch

1:30  –  2:45    Panel Discussion:  –Winning in the Holiday Season – how to connect, promote and market buying locally or your business during the holiday season.

Moderator: Laury Hammel (SBN Boston)
. Panelists: Joe Grafton (Somerville Local First), Steve Fischer (NEIBA), Stephanie Seacord (Leading Edge, Portsmouth NH)

Holiday campaigns, like Shift Your Shopping, Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday, are one of the most visible and fastest growing elements of the local economies movement. Panelists will discuss innovations and best practices in holiday messaging from a variety of perspectives. Attendees will learn new tools, techniques and strategies to amplify their holiday promotion and new collaborations will be discussed to further grow these efforts in 2012.

2:45  –  3:30    Workshop: The Top 10 Online Marketing Strategies

Facilitator: Joe Grafton (Somerville Local First).  Presenters: Michelle Mccormack (Secret Boston/Love the Cool), Andy Pyman (Truly Good Design)

The world of promotion has changed. While traditional marketing techniques can be effective, marketing growth is most concentrated online. In this workshop lead by innovators and experts, you will learn 10 tools and techniques that will immediately enhance your business or organizations reach.

3:30  –  4:00     Closing discussion, learnings, next steps

4:00 – 6:00    HAPPY HOUR – Drinks with our colleagues and friends from New England

Register Now!

Friday May 4th, 9:00 AM to 5:00PM

First Parish Church, 3 Church Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

$35 per person,  includes lunch and coffee ($25 for networks who have donated to NELEN)
Register Now!

Your Registration Type
Name(s) Of Attendees

This event is being organized by the New England Local Business Forum and hosted by The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston.

Speaker/Breakout – New Collaborations: Connecting Industry Leaders and Buy Local Networks
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NELBF Fall Gathering Recap – The Gang’s All Here!

By Danielle Kennedy

On October 21, New England Local Business Forum (NELEN) returned to its roots in Portsmouth, NH for its 8th semiannual gathering. What started three years ago in the same city with a handful of local business leaders had grown on this sunny fall day to a collaboration of 30+ people from 17 Local First networks representing every state in New England.

This year, NELEN was even graced by two special guests, American Independent Business Alliance(AMIBA) cofounders Jeff Milchen and Jennifer Rockne, all the way from Big Sky Montana. After a morning meet-and-greet over coffee and pastries (locally catered, of course!), we all settled into Portsmouth’s gorgeous LEED Green Certified library for introductions and the morning panel, How Local Business Owners Can Engage the Movement and Customers. The great thing about Local First networks is that so many of the leaders are local business owners themselves. And who better to address the issues local businesses face than a lineup of four leader/proprietors themselves?

NELEN members engage in a panel discussion with Tom Roberts, Michael Kanter, Dave Warner, and Jody Breneman

NELEN members engage in a panel discussion with Tom Roberts, Michael Kanter, Dave Warner, and Jody Breneman

A couple of the panelists reminded us that Local itself can be a branding in marketing. Tom Roberts of Beach Pea Bakery in Kittery, ME reminded us that pragmatism was key in this sense; while independent business has a duty to be socially responsible, it is still a business in the end and all would be for not if it is not successful commercially. Jody Breneman, co-owner of family-owned and run G. Willikers! Toy Shop in our host city told owners to keeping generating buzz about their small business: “Just keep talking about it.” For Jody, Buy Local is all about the small shifts. She shared an anecdote about a local couple on their way to buy a particular Christmas gift for their son at Toys”R”Us. Upon hearing a radio spot reminding them to buy local for the holidays, the couple, reminded, turned around the car and headed straight for local G. Willikers! instead.

This point brings me into the most important discussion of the day – that of the 2nd annual region collaboration on the Shift Your Shopping holiday campaign and the first national partnership on the campaign. The campaign originally started in response to the American Express Small Business Saturday (to which SBN Boston executive director Laury Hammel half-jokingly suggested the slogan this year: “Support Small Business Saturday – Use Cash”). The credit card company ignored the demands and stipulations of NELEN, so we figured local does local better anyway and launched Shift Your Shopping. How do you do local on a national scale during the most commercialized time of the year? Our SYS website (designed by Somerville’s own Andy Pyman of Truly Good Solutions – and newest SLF board member!) will have a focus on individual community stories. It’s always about the local, people! With this campaign, we want to show that the individuals’ local stories are part of something bigger.

In the spirit of Occupy, we encourage consumers to Populate Main Street. As American Express and the like try to jump on our bandwagon, our biggest challenge as the grassroots is make sure you as the public stay informed and understand true ways to support local. Wrapping up a productive day, a group of us did what we do best and support local business, the Portsmouth Brewery.

What struck me about the NELEN gathering was that rather than a conference, it felt like an intimate get-together of like-minded friends – and it was. As one NE Local First leader proclaimed over Portsmouth brews, “We’ve brought 17 organizations together. New England really has something special here.”

Local friends bonding over some local drink

Local friends bonding over some local drink

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Register for NELBF’s 2011 Fall Gathering – Home for the Holidays

The next regional gathering of the NELEN will take place on Friday, October 21st in Portsmouth, NH.  This gathering will focus on our 2nd annual New Enlgand holiday campaign, our integration with a first-ever national holiday campaign and how our member businesses can maximize their benefit of being local during this holiday shopping season.

Click here to Register Now!

Here’s a draft agenda for the day:

9:00 –  10:00    Breakfast & Networking

10:00 –  10:15   Introductions & Welcome

10:15 –  11:15   Panel Discussion:  How Local Business owners can engage the movement, and their customers, during the holidays.

11:15 – 12:30   Workshop: Communicating the Buy Local message to busy business members

12:30 – 1:30     Lunch

1:30  –  2:45     The First Ever National Holiday Campaign: Information about the collaboration, tactics and resources for local networks.

2:45  –  4:00     The Future of NELEN:  Where do we go from here?

4:00  –  5:00     Closing discussion, learnings, next steps

5:00 – 7:00    HAPPY HOUR – Drinks with our colleagues and friends from New England

Friday October 21st, 9:00 AM to 5:00PM

Portsmouth Public Library, 175 Parrott Ave, Portsmouth, NH

TBA – Estimated $10-$25

This event is being organized by the New England Local Business Forum and hosted by Seacoast Local.

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