Pioneer Valley Local First, formerly known as Pioneer Valley Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (PV BALLE), is one of 80 BALLE Networks through out North America. We are a volunteer run organization, working since 2001 to encourage people in Western Massachusetts to Think local First so that they buy and bank local first.
The eight projects we are working on include:
- 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.
- Distributing the 20,000 copies of our 2nd Pioneer Valley Local Business Guide and soon working on the next edition of our local business guide.
- 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.
- Working with the Pioneer Valley Fair Trade Committee on our Buy Local, Buy Fair campaign; and
- 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 the 3rd Thursday of the Month. Each month it will be at a new local venue. Please check our monthly constant contact newsletter that goes out to our business members 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 greatly like to thank Big Y World Class Market, Hampden Bank and Alexis Designs for their Major Sponsorship of our 1st and 2nd Local Business Guides. A big thank you as well to Hadley Printing for their fine work as well. We feel our Local Business Guide is an important tool to educate and encourage people in Hampshire, Hampden 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 like Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, the Center for EcoTechnology, and Coop Power to encourage people and businesses to support local farmers and begin using green energy sources. We have also worked with the Pioneer Valley Sustainability Network, local Mayor's 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 would like to make to benefit our local economy, community, and/or environment, and would appreciate any assistance on, we would be happy to help your business develop Action Plans. Please do not hesitate to call/write for support. Examples of this 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) and Coop Power to purchase green electricity, bio-diesel, bio-fuels, etc... as A2Z Science & Learning Store, Broadside Bookshop, Northampton Brewery, The People's Pint, Atkins Market, Barts/Snow's Ice Cream, River Valley Market, the Mountain Goat 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 and Michael Shuman. Judy Wicks 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. Michael Shuman is the author of the books Going Local and his new book, The Small Mart Revolution, How Local Business Is Beating the Global Competition. 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. Pioneer Valley BALLE works to deliver that message better than any individual business can."
-Rich Cooper, Owner of Cooper's Corner and State Street Fruit Store