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Independent business leaders gather downtown for BALLE Conference

June 5, 2015 by Fara Illich

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Business leaders, philanthropists, economists and policymakers from the across the country converge in Downtown Phoenix to discuss “What’s Working Locally” during the Balle Conference June 10-12.

Conference organizers from Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (Balle) — the national network of Local First organizations — chose Phoenix as a host city because of its long-standing track record of innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity.

Spotlighting the success of Arizona’s local businesses and specifically Downtown Phoenix is huge according to Helene Tack, program development director of Local First Arizona.

“This is a really great opportunity to get 500 people from across the country to see what a progressive city this is,” she said. “There are so many people here who really care and are dedicated to making this a better place.”

Local First Arizona is the world’s largest local business association with more than 2,600 members, recognized nationally as a rising star amongst its peers.

“We want to show off what Phoenix is doing as a city to support local entrepreneurs, engaging in adaptive reuse and historic preservation,” Tack said. “As a young city, we have growing civic pride and placemaking and all those things that make a city really unique.”

Field trips to Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Arcosanti provide examples of localism and sustainability working on a smaller scale, but Downtown Phoenix really takes center stage during the three-day event.

From a Grid Bike tour around the urban core to an after-party at Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlour, independent business owners attending the conference will get a little taste of why people love the city’s center.

How to get involved:

Attend one or more days of the conference

Get plugged in to localism and find out how it impacts your life. Ticket prices range from $100 to $350 depending on the day, and a three-day pass costs $650.

Go on a tour or attend a workshop

A number of separately ticketed workshops and tours coincide with the conference and offer some really cool learning opportunities. From exploring successful examples of urban agriculture to learning how local businesses are solving social and environmental problems – there’s a little something for everyone.

Check out Phoenix Sparks

In a quick and punchy TEDx-style format, 10 localist leaders speak on what inspires them for five minutes each. Located at the Orpheum Theatre Wednesday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. After-party starts at 7:45 p.m. with cocktails and live music — tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door.


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