Dear Mile High Business Alliance members, supporters and friends --
After eight years of operating, and after accomplishing our goal of changing how people think about local economies, the Mile High Business Alliance is closing its doors.
After starting MHBA in August of 2007, we immediately launched Buy Local Week, a community campaign to promote shopping at local retailers. Buy Local Week grew in size and participation (at one point, generating more than $100,000 in media buys given in-kind), until we realized that people were doing Buy Local Week without us. I will never forget watching as a large Chamber of Commerce group went from not participating (“that’s just not a priority for us”) to stumping for Small Business Saturday with the Mayor on television just a couple of years later.
It was the first time we realized that we were finally beginning to accomplish our mission. When people we didn’t know were using our words, when small, bootstrapped projects were being replicated by much larger institutions, our work was successfully guiding how the people of Colorado think about local businesses and the economy.
I could share in great length about the small projects I have watched bloom into bigger and better collaborations. About the thousands of business owners we’ve worked with – some closely, and others from a distance –but all of them, inspiring. I could share with you about the trials and tribulations of being a self-funded non-profit organization (which is a lot like running a small business), and of navigating the economic and political complexities of our fair City. For now, I'll just say this:
Building a thriving local economy is never “finished.” It’s accomplished day by day, as businesses are born, and as more people work together with community leaders who are now more receptive to the needs of small businesses. But while that work is an ongoing concern, the role of Mile High Business Alliance is not.
Where there were only a few passionate persons talking about employee ownership and local currencies, there are now whole projects and organizations devoted to making them a reality. Where there were scrappy marketing campaigns, there are now giant corporations helping to spread the word. Where there were no places for small businesses to connect and thrive, there are now markets and maker spaces and Start Up Week and coworking spaces and business incubators. Our community has embraced the “local first” mentality in a way we never expected. What started off as an idea in my basement has now become a movement engrained in Denver’s business community, and I could not be more proud.
It’s rare for an organization to be able to reflect on its accomplishments and say, “that’s enough for now.” Denver is a different place than when we started. And all I have is deep gratitude in my heart for the many, many ways that you’ve been a part of building a better community with us. All of the things we accomplished couldn’t have happened without the thousands of people who were a part of this organization.
Effective immediately, monthly memberships will no longer be withdrawn from bank accounts or credit cards. While the membership activities of the organization are ceasing, many of the projects we started will live on in other forms. Along with other community partners, we're organizing the 4th Annual Local Food Summit for the spring of 2016. And we are actively seeking local partners to take ownership of the Neighborhood Catalyst local crowdfunding platform.
Speaking personally, I’m still recuperating from my campaign for Denver City Council. Although I'll no longer be leading the charge for MHBA, I will still be active in a lot of community projects. I continue to advocate for local food systems as part of the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council. I’m working with Colfax on the Hill to engage local businesses in helping make Colfax a more people-friendly corridor. And I’m also fulfilling a pet passion by selling my own handmade soaps, lotions and kitchen goodies at local markets and online. My care for this community will never cease.
As a final thank you we invite you to come and celebrate with us on Thursday, October 1st, when we will be hosting a farewell party. We’ll acknowledge the many things we produced together, celebrate our champions and members, and enjoy delicious food and drink and live music. I would be so honored to have you there. Please RSVP for this event here.
Please contact me with any additional questions or concerns.