Complete Economy Project Reaches Out to Stakeholders

By Nicole Colson, Originally Published in New Hampshire Business Review

A Monadnock Region initiative aimed at adopting policies designed to level the playing field for locally owned businesses is being developed in hopes it will serve as a statewide model.

The Complete Economy Project, spearheaded by Monadnock Buy Local, is an effort by citizens to create a regional economy by implementing policies and practices that balances diverse types of business by putting them on equal footing. The effort was launched last fall.

Monadnock Buy Local is a grassroots network of citizens, businesses and organizations that promotes the economic and community benefits of spending locally, while supporting programs and policies that support a local, green and fair economy.

Stakeholders will decide what policies should be created –for example, better access to broadband, more composting and less trash removal or more hospitals and municipalities buying from locally-owned businesses.

Those are only a few ideas – at this point, there is no focus on one business idea or sector to make the economy stronger. Instead the organization, which is working with the city of Keene, is looking at data that shows how well the local economy is operating and whether certain policies that don’t make sense need to be ruled out.

The movement needs stakeholders and partners to help implement the ideas. Possible partners in consideration are the local Small Business Development Center, chamber of commerce and regional planning commission among other economic development groups and independent business owners.

Effective strategies

Stacy Mitchell, economy researcher and author from the Portland, Maine, office of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance – a national nonprofit that researches, analyzes and partners with communities and policymakers to design and implement policies to strengthen local economies – gave a presentation earlier this month for potential stakeholders at Antioch University New England. The purpose of her appearance was to share effective strategies focused on national local economy policies and to gain community support for the Monadnock project.

Mitchell gave an overall picture of local economies across the country and how they are affected by monopolies. Her institute’s research found that $1 of every $2 spent online today goes to Amazon; at the same time, for every job gained at Amazon, two jobs are lost at a brick-and-mortar store.

But at a time when online retail giants are forcing brick-and-mortar businesses to shutter, the buy local movement continues to gain traction. One example is the re-emergence of independent booksellers – 660 new stores opened in the country over the past seven years.

And a recent impact study of the Monadnock Region found locally owned businesses return four times more money to the local economy compared to chain retailers.

Independent businesses saw a 5.1 percent increase in sales in 2014 (vs. a 2.3 percent increase in 2013) according to the latest national survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with the Advocates for Independent Business, which gathered data from 3,000 locally-owned business.

The same Monadnock Region impact study notes if every area resident shifted just 10 percent of their purchases from national chains to locally owned retailers, it would keep $27 million annually recirculating in the local economy, generating more jobs, charitable donations and community health.

Among the strategies Mitchell said help strengthen local economies are growing local banks, creating a local investment fund, adopting business diversity policies and supporting buy local first initiatives.

Monadnock Buy Local serves as an example of these kinds of initiatives in that the organization has created partnerships with other local business alliances to instill a Plaid Friday and Shift Your Shopping Campaign every holiday season to encourage spending at locally owned and independent businesses.

Stakeholder outreach

The organization used Smart Growth America’s Complete Streets program as inspiration for the Complete Economy Project and plans to adapt its framework to turn the project into a movement. Complete Streets, a successful program in the Monadnock Region, advocates for policies and practices that ensure safe streets for all. Smart Growth America’s leadership team supports the idea and wants to stay connected as it’s developed.

Monadnock Buy Local received a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to support the Complete Economy project. The first phase of work consisted of creating an outreach plan for stakeholders.

“It’s important to reach out to partners and determine what measureables they’re looking at,” said Jennifer Risley, executive director of marketing and event planning with Monadnock Buy Local. “We’re working together to come up with a baseline as something we can measure each year to see how we’re doing before jumping into any one policy.”

This summer, those stakeholders will review case studies, develop and implement the first policy to advocate. If the project is successful, the city will adopt the policy, followed by many others that support the local living economy. The goal is to share this model with other communities.

There is no limit to the number of partners for the project, and Risley hopes many will get involved.

“We need to use our collective power,” she said.

TEDxKeene Event Streams Online on April 8th

This year, organizers proudly present the inaugural TEDxKeene event.  TEDxKeene will be the newest of a handful of TEDx events throughout the state of New Hampshire.

The event theme, “A Tipping Point”, is intended to resonate with audience members in multiple ways. Whether the theme reminds you of Malcolm Gladwell’s book about small actions resulting in big effects, or you simply think of a life changing realization, TEDx wants you to stop and think about tipping points, or the lack thereof, in your life and community.

Speakers at TEDxKeene, and their respective topics, include: Mackenzie Donovan (Forest Protection), John Benjamin and Chris Ekblom (The Power of Songwriting), Rana Abdelhamid (Hate Crime Self Defense), Dottie Morris (Taking Control of Identity), John Hoffman (Overcoming Depression), Ryan Owens (Conservation as Human Interest), Rudy Fedrizzi (Community Health), and Bryan Russell (Breathing Techniques).

TEDxKeene will be offering a free livestream of the event on April 8th for those that wish to follow along.

To receive additional information and a link to our livestream, please sign up for our livestream newsletter on our www.tedxkeene.com homepage and follow us on Facebook for current updates.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED.com.

A Roadmap to a Sustainable Community: The Keene Comprehensive Master Plan

Monadnock Buy Local

Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

A sustainable community is one that is economically, environmentally and socially healthy and resilient.  It meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of those goals at the expense of others.  And it takes a long-term perspective — one that’s focused on both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle. – The Institute for Sustainable Communities

The City of Keene’s Comprehensive Master Plan reflects this call for a long-term perspective — and sets its sight on a vision for Keene in the year 2028.  This plan, based on a shared community vision, is now in its fifth year.  It’s time to collectively assess our progress around implementing this roadmap to a more sustainable community.

One opportunity to come together and reflect on our progress is at the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship’s

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Becoming a Climate Resilient Community in Keene, NH

According to the City of Keene’s 2006 – 2008 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, our community is not on target to meet its greenhouse gas emission goal of reducing emissions to 10% below 1995 levels by 2015.  This goal measures if we were moving Keene further towards or away from becoming a Climate Resilient Community.

Since the inventory report indicates we are stepping away from resiliency, it’s imperative for us to take a closer look at this report.

Final Version - Greenhouse Gas_Page_07

The two sectors contributing the most emissions in our community are Transportation and Commercial/Industrial.  Given the reality of living where we do, how can we work together to reduce energy use and the carbon emissions released by these two sectors?

Final Version - 2 Greenhouse Gas_Page_09 copyThe Cities for Climate Protection Committee is focusing on these two top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and the related targets identified in the City of Keene’s Climate Adaptation Plan.

Currently, the committee is working with the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation on the feasibility of Car Sharing in our region and with Monadnock Buy Local to identify policies that support our local businesses and their efforts to become more environmentally sustainable.

Consider your place of work and how you get there… how can you support alternative transportation and local living economy efforts at your place of employment?

Monadnock Matters: Building a Stronger Local Living Economy

Vision:

Like Aesop’s Bundle of Sticks Fable, separate initiatives working to improve our region’s community and economy can be stronger if bound by unifying goals — connections, not meant to constrain, but strengthen separate initiatives — to help us create a local living economy.

Monadnock Matters Project:

Monadnock Matters, in its next phase, will act as a clearinghouse for all things “Local Living Economy” to improve our region’s community and economy. For more information, contact monadnockbuylocal@gmail.com.

What Does a Local Living Economy Mean?

In November 2009, a group of community members gathered to explore the concept of a Local Living Economy. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies has its own definition, but what does it mean to us – citizens of the Monadnock Region? Here is a small sample of ideas shared.

The Monadnock Local Living Economy is a place where:

  • All citizens can have a great quality of life.
  • Our basic needs are met within our community and region.
  • Individuals realize that they are beyond the worth of their jobs.
  • Leadership helps identify common ground and overarching community goals.
  • Citizens are creating a new definition of what our needs really are.
  • Individuals and banks are investing in social capital.
  • We are working cooperatively and collaboratively.
  • All citizens are engaged and feel included.
  • We are celebrating our community.
  • We are thinking of our community as a system.

Local Innovators: Leaders in Local & Regional Collaboration Report

The Hannah Grimes Center released the report, Local Innovators: Leaders in Local & Regional Collaboration, a product of nine interviews with a diverse sampling of local and regional leaders in the Monadnock Region of Southwest New Hampshire.  Included within the report are nine case studies that highlight challenges and innovative solutions for collaborating locally and regionally.  Also included are tips and resources for groups and individuals seeking to improve their own collaborative efforts. This report was produced by Libby Weiland, a recent Antioch University New England graduate who worked on this project as a Hannah Grimes Center intern this past spring. Out of her interviews emerged themes and commonalities that provided insight into the questions:

  • What makes for successful collaboration?
  • What challenges do groups face to successful collaboration?
  • What common needs do groups have?
  • What innovative solutions are being proposed?

Local Innovators interviewed include: