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Business 'localists' argue public policy slanted towards large corporations

Buffalo hosted the 11th annual Business Alliance for Local Living Economies or the BALLE business conference this year. The event brought together over 600 self-described “localists” from around the continent who all share the idea that local businesses are key to solving community problems.

Director of the Sustainable Business Alliance in Oakland, California Erin Kilmer-Neel,spoke at the conference.

“Right now people so many people feel like the economy is out of their hands, that big banks have basically messed everything up and they don’t have anything they can do about it and this is really an amazing opportunity to understand that we actually can do something about it and together we can change everything,” said Kilmer Neel.

Erin Kilmer-Neel says the power of buying local translates into job creation and business development.   

“What people are going to take back to their home cities is new ideas, a lot of stuff about local investing and how we can change where we invest our dollars,” said Kilmer-Neel.

Senior Researcher with the Institute for Local Self Reliance, Stacy Mitchell,says a critical issue remains in the area of public policy where large corporations are granted subsidies that independent businesses aren’t eligible to receive.

“There are people speaking on behalf of small business in the halls of congress and the halls of the state legislature and if you look at who they really are they’re big business. They’re organizations like the U.S. chamber of commerce that represent giant companies and they’re driving policy and they’re saying this is going to be good for small business, but of course it’s not so it’s absolutely critical that independent business owners speak up and identify what is actually going to be good for them,” said Mitchel.

BALLE Economy Fellow James Johnson-Piett adds everyone from large and small corporations to politicians and community citizens need to work together in order to implement change and grow local economies like those in western New York.

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