June 3: NELBF Spring Gathering! Sign up now…

We hope you will join us for our next regional gathering in June.  NELEN gatherings have strengthened both local-first business networks and relationships across the region, and we are hoping for and expecting a repeat performance at our next meeting.

Click here to Register Now!

Also, we are pleased to announce that Steve Fischer, Executive Director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association will be participating in a panel discussion:  The Local Movement Today & Tomorrow.  The panel will investigate and discuss re-localization from the perspectives of a network leader, a business person and an industry advocate and offer insight on what is next for the movement.

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   Sharing & Networking workshop (Each
attendee will discuss key wins and challenges
over the past several months)

11:15 – 12:30   Work group focusing on key recurring
themes from Sharing & Networking discussion

12:30 – 1:30     Lunch

1:30  –  2:45     Panel Discussion: The Local Movement
Today & Tomorrow

2:45  –  4:00     Working group with peer networks

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

Friday June 3rd, 9:00 AM to 5:00PM

The Cambridge Innovation Center,
1 Broadway  Cambridge, MA

$10 to cover the cost of lunch.

The Cambridge Innovation Center map and directions can befound here.  There is parking on site, with a daily rate of approximately $25.  You may also drive to Alewife T Station and take the Red Line to Kendall Square.  Parking at Alewife costs $7 per day.

We hope to see you and members of your board and network on June 3rd.  Click here to Register Now!

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

Please forward this message to your boards and members of your Local First group / Independent Business Alliance.

Joe Grafton
Somerville Local First
on behalf of the NELEN steering committee

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NELBF’s Fall 2010 Gathering

Representatives of 8 local business networks gathered in Walpole, New Hampshire, on October 27, 2010 for the New England Local Business Forum’s fall gathering.  It was a day of sharing questions and expertise, and finding ways for our local organizations to collaborate.  Please see the Notes from the Fall 2010 Gathering for a very detailed summary of the sessions and discussion.

We’d like to extend a big thank-you to Monadnock Buy Local and the Hannah Grimes Center for hosting us!

Idea Map from the Fall 2010 Gathering

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Spring Gathering Held in Somerville


Representatives of more than a dozen Local First / Buy Local groups met on May 7, 2010, in Somerville for a day of sharing best ideas and practices, strategizing, networking and, of course, socializing! A big thanks to Somerville Local First for hosting this great event!

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New England Retailers Would Like to Source More Goods Locally, Survey Finds

A survey of over 100 independent retailers in New England has found that almost all (98%) would like to source more of their inventory from manufacturers and other producers within the region. But there are barriers to doing so, including, most notably, a lack of an easy and efficient way for retailers to identify New England companies producing the kinds of goods they carry.

The survey, conducted by the New England Local Business Forum and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, gathered data from 109 independent retailers. Most (87%) operate only a single location. They average just under 8 full-time employees. All are actively involved in “buy local” and “local first” campaigns that urge people to choose local, independent businesses. Being involved in these initiatives may have increased their own interest in purchasing more of the goods and services they need to run their businesses from other local businesses in the region.

Major findings of the survey include:

  • Although the survey included retailers carrying a wide variety of goods, it had heavier representation in certain categories and an outsized number of retailers who also make the goods they carry (e.g., jewelers). Respondents reported that an average of 24% of their merchandise was made in-house and 23% was purchased from producers within New England.
  • Among retailers who source or produce at least 20% of their merchandise in New England, the top product categories were: groceries, art, jewelry, clothing, furniture, pet supplies, and toys.
  • The 13 grocers and specialty food stores in the survey reported that 62% of the food they sold was produced in New England.
  • Among those who sourced very little in the region, the top product categories included: shoes, books, appliances, clothing, music CDs, pharmaceuticals, housewares, and toys.
  • Scale appears to be a factor in the degree to which retailers source from local and regional producers. The smallest retailers – those spending less than $250,000 a year on inventory – source 51% of their goods from New England producers. Larger retailers – those buying $1 million or more a year in inventory – source only 21% of their goods within the region.
  • Of those retailers who already source at least 20% of their merchandise in New England, 50% indicated that a primary barrier to sourcing more from the region was the lack of an easy and fast way to identify New England manufacturers that produce the goods they carry. Other barriers cited included that the goods they carry are not produced here (37% report this barrier) and small producers often fail to meet standard wholesale practices regarding payment terms, delivery, order-taking, etc. (27%). (Respondents could select more than one barrier.)
  • Of those firms that purchase a majority of their merchandise from large national or global companies, 80% said the biggest barrier to sourcing in New England is that the goods they sell are not made here. Other factors include the difficulty of identifying regional manufacturers and higher prices for goods produced in New England.
  • When asked what would help them source more goods regionally, 55% of the respondents indicated that a website showcasing regional producers and facilitating wholesale orders would be helpful. Just under half (49%) said that assistance identifying producers of the goods they stock would be helpful, and 44% voiced support for a tradeshow of New England manufacturers.

The New England Local Business Forum is a coalition of more than a dozen local business alliances, representing about 3,000 independent businesses in six states. NELEN serves as a resource for the growth and development of these organizations, and promotes support for independent businesses across the region.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a national nonprofit organization that conducts research and provides innovative strategies to support environmentally sound and equitable community development.

For more details:  PDF of Survey Questions & Results

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Report from NELBF’s Fall 2009 Gathering: New England Made

Download the Summary Report from the Breakout Sessions of NELEN’s New England Made event, held in Portland on November 10, 2009.

You can view the agenda here.  We also have audio files of several of the presentations, as well as photos.

Also be sure to check out our survey of more than 100 independent retailers: New England Retailers Would Like to Source More Goods Locally, Survey Finds

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Photos from NELBF’s Fall 2009 Gathering: New England Made

Niaz Dorry & Karen Marzloff Presentation


Break-Out Session

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Audio from NELBF’s Fall 2009 Gathering: New England Made

Our thanks to Steve Jones-D’Agostino of Worcester Local First for recording the speakers and the wrap-up session at the New England Made event, held in Portland on November 10, 2009.

Click the links below to listen to the audio files. (You can view the agenda here.)

How Communities can Protect the Fish while Sustaining Small-Scale, Local Fishing
Speakers: Niaz Dorry of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, and Karen Marzloff of Seacoast Local

Expanding Local and Regional Food Markets & Production
Speakers: Marada Cook of Crown of Maine Co-op, Valerie Geredien of the Maine Food Producers Alliance, and Jonah Fertig of Local Sprouts & the Public Market House’s Community Kitchen
Moderator: Stacy Mitchell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Do You Buy Local for Your Business?
Results of our New England wide survey of independent retailers.

Best ideas from the break-out sessions & next steps for the New England Local Business Forum.

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Rebuilding Our Region’s Economy — Linking Food Producers, Regional Manufacturers, and Independent Retailers

When: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 10am-4pm
Where: SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine (follow the link for a map)
Cost: $25, including a local organic lunch catered by Local Sprouts

This is a great opportunity to hear inspiring speakers engaged in innovative projects to revive and strengthen food production and manufacturing in New England, meet leaders of other buy local groups from throughout the region, and join a strategic discussion of how to rebuild our local and regional economy.

Featured speakers include:

  • Niaz Dorry, coordinating director of NAMA, together with Karen Marzloff of Seacoast Local, will discuss steps communities can take to protect the fish while sustaining small-scale, local fishing operations, and will examine how fisheries policies currently under consideration could lead to the consolidation of the fishing industry, much as farming turned into agribusiness, and undermine the health of our marine ecosystem.
  • Stephanie Volo of Planet Dog, which recently moved 75% of its product manufacturing from overseas back to New England, and other business and nonprofit leaders will help lead a strategic discussion about the challenges and opportunities for reviving manufacturing in the region.

This event is being organized by the New England Local Business Forum and hosted by the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance.

Early registration is encouraged!

Please go to the REGISTRATION FORM.

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Third NELBF Local Leader Gathering: June 4th

Specific and practical programs that will support New England local business organizations in working together to build strong local economies and a strong regional New England economy.


  • To bring local leaders together who are organizing local business alliances or who are considering getting one started in their community.
  • To share best practices, victories, lessons learned, and other information that will help New England alliances grow and thrive.
  • To brainstorm campaign messages and other ideas for how local business alliances can address the breakdown of our national economy and present the value of building a stronger and more robust local economy during this economic crisis.

Continue reading

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