National Business Alliance Names Third Cohort of Localists Leading the New Economy
BALLE (the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) announced its third cohort of BALLE Local Economy Fellows – 17 leaders from across North America chosen as the top pioneers of the Local Economy Movement. BALLE Local Economy Fellows participate in an intimate and rigorous 18-month leadership immersion program that further strengthens their capacity for transformative systems change in their communities. Locally, Carlos Velasco has been selected to represent Arizona; his profile can be found here: https://bealocalist.org/carlos-velasco-fellow. Velasco serves as the Director of Fuerza Local, Local First Arizona’s outreach initiative that works to empower the Spanish-speaking business community.
Carlos Velasco addresses attendees at monthly Fuerza Local mixer.
“I am honored to have been selected as a BALLE Local Economy Fellow,” said Velasco. “Fuerza Local was the first initiative of its kind in the country, founded to support and connect Spanish-speaking independent business owners with the resources they need to run a sustainable business. This recognition is significant for the work we have done so far in Arizona to empower Spanish-speaking business owners and the Latino community as a whole. I am excited to dive in to the BALLE Fellow program to learn how we can have an even greater impact on our local economy.”
Individually, each 2014 BALLE Local Economy Fellow is a proven leader and innovative local economy connector – someone who represents, convenes, and influences whole communities of local businesses from Boston to New Orleans to Minneapolis. Combined, they are a diverse group of leaders who represent the cutting edge of social entrepreneurship incubation, community capital cultivation, and social justice.
“These challenging times require a different type of leader who can create the conditions for a new economy to emerge. Developing this type of leader is the purpose of the BALLE Local Economy Fellowship,” said Michelle Long, executive director of BALLE. “With the transformational leadership development, skills and tools, and connections these leaders will receive as part of the fellowship, BALLE Local Economy Fellows will be poised to democratize opportunity, ownership and the economy, and bring real prosperity to more people; fundamentally fixing our global economy from the ground up.”
Carlos Velaco stands with Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning (center) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (right) at annual Tianguis Festival.
BALLE’s Local Economy Fellowship began in 2011 with a vision of creating an interconnected network of local economies that work in harmony with nature to support a healthy, prosperous, and joyful life for all people. Within a decade, BALLE plans to connect and support 250 communities of practice across North America that bolster their local economies from within – investing in the people and businesses rooted right where they are.
Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning participated as a fellow in the inaugural 2011 group. “My experience as a BALLE Fellow has accelerated Local First Arizona’s work across the state,” said Lanning. “Through the fellowship, I formed important relationships and had new experiences that have improved my skills in both economic development and leadership. I am excited to see what Carlos will experience as a Fellow and hear his ideas for advancing economic development initiatives through Fuerza Local.”
The new group of fellows joins the 2011 and 2013 cohorts, bringing the total number of BALLE Local Economy Fellows to 42 leaders representing more than 34,000 businesses and reaching over one million people. The program has already seen profound, lasting outcomes within just a few years, such as $4.28 million raised by January 2014 in new funding that Fellows directly attribute to connections or skills developed through the fellowship and 74 instances of collaboration.
Carlos Velasco speaks to graduates and guests of the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program.
The new group of BALLE Local Economy Fellows were selected through referrals and support from some of the most respected and well-known organizations in the field: NoVo Foundation, Echoing Green, Ashoka, New World Foundation, Rutgers Social Innovation Institute, Social Venture Network and Surdna Foundation. BALLE’s central partner in Local Economy Fellowship content development and program oversight is the Ventana Group, world-renowned leaders in transformative leadership development and systems change.
“We believe that an economic and cultural transformation to create real prosperity will require supporting emerging innovators,” said Jennifer Buffett of the NoVo Foundation. “This is why our partnership with BALLE to identify, connect, nourish, and illuminate today’s top local economy leaders is a key part of our strategy.”
An approach to economic development that fosters local business ownership and sustainability isn’t new, and is becoming more mainstream every day. From Economic Development Quarterly to Harvard Business Review, traditional economic voices are certifying that communities with a higher density and diversity of local, independently owned businesses have more wealth, jobs, and resiliency. The aim of the BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is nothing less than a new economy built on fairness, cooperation, and sustainability.
“BALLE Local Economy Fellows aren’t waiting for big government or big business to step in and fix all that ails a dying system – instead they are working to change economies right where they are, starting with the tools and resources they have: human capital, resourcefulness, and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Shawn Escoffery, Director of the Strong Local Economies Program for the Surdna Foundation.