Supporting Family Farmers With Your Dollars

In May, the USDA released their regular agricultural census, profiling the economics and other data about farms throughout the country. A brief summary of Colorado farming can be found here.

On average, Colorado farmers generate just $215,000 in revenue per year, with most farms (13,421 out of 36,180 in 2012) generating less than $1,000 in sales per year. 

Holy cow, can you believe we're starting our eight year of localism work?  As we pass yet another anniversary of doing work to build community and strengthen the local economy here in Colorado, we're happy to look back at all of the projects, businesses and partners who have gotten us here. 

Starting with a small group of dedicated leaders.

Since its inception in 2007, Mile High Business Alliance has championed local businesses, both to the community and to policy-makers.  In 2007, we started from scratch with 10 founding members, contributing $2,500 each.  Our founding members gave us the jump start we needed to get moving on this work.  (See here for our current members and founding partners.)  We began with community campaigns that celebrated local businesses and helped people identify them.  As more people begin to understand the importance of supporting local businesses, and how we can vote with our dollars, we continue to grow and develop campaigns that promote the independent businesses that strengthen our communities. 
But we can't stop there.  Our work as a community means that we have to address the systems and related issues that affect our own ability to succeed. As we have grown, we have added programs that provide direct support to small businesses, from resources to myriad events that help us build relationship with one another.  We have also grown our influence and work with local government.  As our network has grown, we have become a powerful voice for local businesses in the community and with local policy makers.

Mile High Business Alliance is unique.  

We are the largest business network in Colorado that represents only businesses headquartered in the state, because we recognize that spending money here at home is what is going to keep our economy going at the local level.  It's not just where you're doing business, it's where you're investing.  We work to preserve and promote the independent businesses that are the backbone of a healthy economy and community.

We are about relationships

Our communities are as strong as our interconnections - between businesses and their neighbors, between local businesses themselves, between those who provide resources and the businesses who need them.  At our events, our goal is to facilitate connection and exchange, not just passive listening.  We connect businesses to policy-makers, academics, financial institutions and resource-providers.  By growing our network, we grow the resources we have and the relationships that make things happen.  

What's next?

You can count on us to keep the buy local conversation growing and connecting independent business to the community.  Last fall, we launched Neighborhood Catalyst, a broader approach to raising capital that deepens connections between organizations and their communities.  This locally-focused crowdfunding program gives people a way to invest their money, time and resources into projects happening where they live.  Organizations and businesses in the community can use the platform to raise needed funds, get supplies and skills and also broaden their network of truly invested local supporters.

We continue to develop relationships with other organizations and people working to create a sustainable local economy.   This summer, Mile High Business Alliance began a partnership with Colfax on the Hill, combining forces to provide greater impact and expand each organization's ability to support members.  We continue to create spaces for businesses to meet the organizations and fellow entrepreneurs who can help local businesses thrive.  This October, we will be presenting Plan Build Thrive, a series of half-day seminars tailored to businesses at different stages.  We continue to be voice for what matters, with new contracts supporting our work to distil and be a conduit for the issues that matter most to independent business.

We never stop educating the broader community on the importance of buying local.  Drink Local First launched this summer with the Denver Beer Guide.  Our local food work continues to grow through the new Colorado Food Guild, which we co-founded this spring to move forward the creation of a sustainable local food system.  We continue to engage the community with fun local food events like our partnership with Le Jardin Secret and our summer Hoofin It ranch to table progressive dinner series.  This summer and fall, Bank Local First renews with incentives to use local retailers and education around the positive impact of local financial institutions.  These campaigns don't just promote buying local, but also help people identify which businesses are local.

Our education and advocacy have grown to the domain of public policy. Our member-driven Public Policy committee has been active in responding to community requests for feedback from the local business community. We've created a public policy platform so you can better understand what we're advocating for in conversations with City, State and Federal elected officials and various policy organizations. Our policy work has spanned the domains of local food systems, public transit, small business concerns and more. We're providing a much-needed and unique voice for the concerns of locally owned businesses in building healthy communitites.

To all who have been a part of this eight year journey with us, we can't thank you enough for your support and your inspiration.  Here's to another eight years and, most of all, to a bright future for a thriving and resilient local economy!

Local Recipe Box: Gluten Free Vegan Cornbread Pancakes with Smoked Apple Sauce

Gluten Free Vegan Cornbread Pancakes with Smoked Apple Sauce

Gluten Free Vegan Cornbread Pancakes with Smoked Apple Sauce - by WaterCourse Foods

This is a great sweet and savory collaboration. This recipe may fit any dietary needs and is a head turner at parties and gatherings.