About Pioneer Valley Local First

Pioneer Valley Local First (PVLF), formerly known as Pioneer Valley Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (PV BALLE), is a founding member of BALLE. There are some 80 or so networks throughout North America. We are a membership-based organization, working since 2001, to encourage people in Western Massachusetts to think local first so that they buy and bank local first. In 2014, we became a member of AMIBA, the American Independent Business Alliance: another great organization doing important work benefitting scores of local, independent businesses and bolstering local economies across the United States.

The eight projects we are working on include:

  • Distributing our 3rd Local Business Guide: 38,000 copies are being distributed in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. Please contact us if you want to distribute these guides at your business.
  • Educating people, businesses, non-profits, and municipalities about the benefits to our community and our region's economy for supporting locally owned, independent businesses here in the three counties of Western Massachusetts.
  • Expanding on our Local Banking Campaign to encourage people and businesses to move their accounts to local and community banks and credit unions.
  • Promoting our Shift Your Shopping campaign each year during Christmas and the other Holidays to encourage people to shift their shopping to local, independent businesses for all of their present buying needs.
  • PV Local First played an instrumental in Northampton becoming the 6th Fair Trade Town in America. If your town, city or business would like assistance in developing your own campaign to become a Fair Trade Town, please be in touch. Click here for more information Buy Local, Buy Fair campaign;
  • Working with local businesses who want to develop Action Plans to make positive changes that benefit our local economy, community, and/or environment.
  • Local Thirst, our monthly business networking event will be (usually) on the first Wednesday of each month. Each Local Thirst event will be at a different local venue. Please check our monthly constant contact newsletter, facebook page and/or Our Calendar for the location.  
  • In a partnership with the Hampshire Council of Governments, we will soon be launching the Hampshire Purchasing Coop, please click here for more details.

We would like to deeply thank Big Y World Class Market, Hampden Bank and Alexis Designs for their Major Sponsorship of our 1st and 2nd Local Business Guides and to Big Y, PVTA and the Hampden Bank Charitable Foundation for Sponsoring our 3rd Local Business Guide. A big "Thank You" goes out to Hadley Printing at the Daily Hampshire Gazette for their fine work as well. We think our Local Business Guide is an important tool to educate and encourage people in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties to think, buy & bank local first!!

We seek to work closely with local, independent businesses to help them do more local purchasing and with non-profits, such as Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, the Center for EcoTechnology, and Coop Power to encourage people and businesses to support local farmers and shift to using greener energy sources. We have also worked with the Pioneer Valley Sustainability Network, Mayors' offices, and area Chambers of Commerce to influence their members about the need to promote our local living economy. One of the biggest projects we initiated in the past was our Think Local First Contest. This contest did much to encourage people to shop locally during Christmas and the Holidays.

If there are changes your business could implement, that would benefit our local economy, community, and/or environment, and PVLF can be of assistance, we would be happy to help your business develop an Action Plan . Please do not hesitate to call/write for support. Examples are: assistance to do more local purchasing; to bank locally; set up recycling/composting programs by working with groups like the Center for EcoTechnology (CET), Coop Power and ReEnergizer to purchase green electricity, bio-diesel, bio-fuels, etc... as A2Z Science & Learning Store, Broadside Bookshop, Northampton Brewery, The People's Pint, Atkins Market, Bart's/Snow's Ice Cream, River Valley Market, and many other businesses have already done.

We have also brought great speakers to the area, such as Judy Wicks from the White Dog Cafe' in Philidelphia and Michael Shuman. Judy is one of the co-founders of BALLE and was chosen by Inc. Magazine in 2004 as "one of the twenty-five most fascinating entrepreneurs in America." She is also featured in the book Americans Who Tell The Truth and recently released her own book Good Morning, Beautiful Business. Michael Shuman is the author of Going Local, The Small Mart Revolution, How Local Business Is Beating the Global Competition and his new book Local Dollars, Local Sense. These speakers as well as other events have helped citizens of the Pioneer Valley see the economic and ecological importance of creating a Local, Living Economy.

Living Economy Principles

A Living Economy ensures that economic power resides locally, sustaining healthy community life and natural life as well as long-term economic viability.

A Living Economy is guided by the following principles:

  • Living economy communities produce and exchange locally as many products needed by their citizens as they reasonably can, while reaching out to other communities to trade in those products they cannot reasonably produce at home. These communities value their unique character and encourage cultural exchange and cooperation.
  • Living economy public policies support decentralized ownership of businesses and farms, fair wages, taxes, and budget allocations, trade policies benefiting local economies, and stewardship of the natural environment.
  • Living economy citizens appreciate the benefits of buying from living economy businesses and, if necessary, are willing to pay a price premium to secure those personal and community benefits.
  • Living economy investors value businesses that are community stewards and as such accept a "living return" on their financial investments rather than a maximum return, recognizing the value derived from enjoying a healthy and vibrant community and sustainable global economy.
  • Living economy media provide sources of news independent of corporate control, so that citizens can make informed decisions in the best interests of their communities and natural environment.
  • Living economy businesses are primarily independent and locally owned, and value the needs and interests of all stakeholders while building long-term profitability.

Living Economy Businesses Strive to:

  • Source products from businesses with similar values, with a preference for local procurement.
  • Provide employees a healthy workplace with meaningful living-wage jobs.
  • Offer customers a high level of personal service and useful, safe, quality products.
  • Work with suppliers to establish a fair exchange.
  • Cooperate with other businesses in ways that balance their self-interest with their obligation to the community and future generations.
  • Use their business practices to support an inclusive and healthy community, and to protect our natural environment.
  • Yield a "living return" to owners and investors.

“As the owner of Cooper's Corner and State Street Fruit Store, Deli Wine and Spirits in Northampton, and as a lifelong resident of Florence raising a family and concerned about the quality of life for this and future generations, it is important to me that locally owned businesses flourish. It takes a conscious effort for the average consumer to look at more than just price when choosing where to buy and I know that when the customer considers all the benefits of supporting local businesses, the local choice always makes sense. PV Local First works to deliver that message better than any individual business can."

-Rich Cooper, Owner of Cooper's Corner and State Street Fruit Store

We're a founding network of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and a proud member of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), two organizations that are leading the living economy movement with over 150 combined Networks throughout North America.

We are very proud to be affiliated with: