Independent We Stand and the Local Business Institute Unite!

I have long supported local business. First in Austin, Texas as co-founder of the Austin Independent Business Alliance (AIBA) and then nationally, as co-founder of the Local Business Institute (LBI). The success of local business is a goal I’ve devoted most of my career to. But this is far more than a career—it’s a passion.

Now, Independent We Stand and the Local Business Institute have united! We are honored and humbled to accept the opportunity of carrying the message and followers of IWS forward. The legacy of IWS is in good hands with LBI as we embrace its program and followers who have a new home with LBI. To IWS followers and members—a very warm welcome. We have created a nest of benefits to make you feel welcome at LBI and the LBI LocalFirst Community. We invite you to join our ranks so we can send you a detailed message about what awaits you!

IWS was created 12 years ago by The Meridian Group to promote local retailers and grew into the country’s premiere voice for shopping locally. The nonprofit organization lived an illustrious life and is now an important program of the Local Business Institute.

LBI, also a nonprofit, launched in 2022 and is dedicated to the creation and support of thriving, sustainable local business communities through education, research and community-building programs. Run by co-founders Rebecca Melançon and Vicky Valdez, we travel beyond the traditional norms and advance programs unique in perspective through innovative thinking and exceptional excellence. We try to reach and maintain that standard every day.

LBI also embraced the IWS Pledge, updating it to the Live Local Pledge. When you take the pledge and commit to Live Local, your actions recirculate just like your money does. The more you do for your community, the more your community delivers to you. A robust local economy benefits everyone and fuels a thriving community!

While local businesses contribute most of your local tax revenue, an even greater impact exists in the recirculation of dollars spent at locally-owned businesses. A landmark study conducted by Civic Economics more than 20 years ago, found that more than three times the dollars stay in your community from money spent at a locally-owned business rather than a chain store. Specifically, spending $100 at a locally-owned store puts $45 recirculating in your local economy whereas only $13 of $100 spent at a chain store stays in your local economy. These facts have now been confirmed through studies in large and small communities all across the nation and in many cases, show an even greater return.

But local business is more than an economic powerhouse. It is the manifestation of our drive to create. It is the direct response of neighbors to the needs of other neighbors. It is the storefront of our hopes and dreams as individuals and as a community. Entrepreneurs embrace their talents with a passion that feeds both their endeavors and our culture. From the unique shops to the musicians and artists (independent businesses one and all) to the entrepreneurial spirit that exudes the attitude that anything can be done—local business makes it happen every day.

As our organizations move forward united as one, we are also united with local businesses everywhere in our passion for entrepreneurship. At the Local Businness Institute, we proudly carry the Independent We Stand flag.