The third Power of Local workshop was held on February 20, 2020 at Austin Community College Eastview Campus, 3401 Webberville Road, Austin, Texas. The event was from 9am to 1pm and was attended by 47.

The Power of Local is designed to empower local businesses to fully embrace the strength of our community. Through education, best practices, new ideas and sharing, we bring entrepreneurs to the point of understanding the magic of local business.But it’s not just about magic. The Power of Local focuses on harnessing our assets to grow our businesses, play a larger role in our community and imagine beyond what is to what could be.

The day began with coffee and pastries from local businesses. During the welcome, we described two activities that were available for the entire event. The first was Advocacy Engagement. We had easels set up with six topics important to local business. Four of the six topics came from our Fall Membership Survey and were the top four most important issues. These included City Regulations, Rising Property Taxes, Finding Employees and Increasing Rents & Leases. To this we added two current city-wide issues, Transportation & Traffic, and Homelessness. We then had one easel where participants could write in a topic of concern that had not been addressed.

Each participant was given dot stickers to vote on their most important issues. This exercise helps AIBA show the power of local in our advocacy on behalf of local business. The results are based on the number of dots each issue received:

Transportation & Traffic 30%
Finding Employees 19%
Increasing Rents & Leases 18%
Rising Property Taxes 16%
Homelessness 15%
City Regulations 2%

Community Conversation: The Power of Leadership

Our first session was The Power of Leadership presented by Bobby Jenkins, owner of ABC Home & Commercial. The power of local is the power of roots, relationships and a real commitment to the community. This is one family’s story of engaging employees and the community through leadership and building a company that is an inspiration to all.Bobby has particularly inspiring story of his family business and how he has led it to phenomenal growth. He shared his leadership and management philosophies with the audience and talked about profit sharing at ABC Home & Commercial. Several of the audience spoke with him afterwards and asked about the specifics of this.

Community Conversation: The Power of Good

What are the benefits of engaging in social good? It helps the community but how does it help your business? How customers are increasing making purchasing choices not just on your products, services and prices but on what you support and do because it’s the right thing to do. How can we lend a helping hand to others as well?

Our second session was one of the most popular, a panel discussion on The Power of Good. Owners and managers from four businesses discussed their connection to community and how their companies engaged in good. They also discussed how this engagement enriched their businesses and increased their bottom lines. Wheatsville Food Co-op, Birds Barbershop, Bicycle Sport Shop and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop all participated. Some of these explained structured programs such as Wheatsville Food Co-op donating a percentage of sales each month to a local nonprofit picked by their membership. Others offered examples of how they give back and do good on a more spontaneous plan such as Bicycle Sport Shop’s bike ambassadors.

Panelists include:

Kendall Antonelli
President and Co-Founder
Antonelli’s Cheese Shop


Hill Abell
Bicycle Sport Shop


Karen Kovalovich
Ownership & Outreach Coordinator
Wheatsville Food Coop


Erin Portman
Birds Barbershop and Verb Products.

Community Conversation: The Power of Connection

The most important thing for you and your business is connectivity, both with the local community and with customers and clients. As a group, we will enter into a fun connectivity event based on HAVE • NEED • WANT. What do you have to offer other businesses in attendance? What does your business need that others can provide? What connections do you want to leave The Power of Local with?

Each attendee was given a sheet to fill out with something they have to offer, something their business needs and something they want professionally. They were then asked to share their Have-Need-Want list with others at their table. In ten minutes, the audience switched table to connect with a different group. This continued until everyone had connected with everyone else. The point was to show The Power of Local—that most of what we need and want can be found within our local business community, we just need to connect. The response to this was wonderful. We had a couple of people ask for each table session to be longer because they needed more time to fully connect. We asked how many people found what they were looking for or found new clients and customers for what they have to offer. More than half the audience raised their hands. We stated that if anyone failed to find what they needed in the other attendees, please reach out to AIBA and we would connect them with a local business that could fulfill their needs. Three businesses expressed a need before the event ended and we were able to recommend connections.

Lunch Keynote: The Power of Local Economies

Our keynote speaker was Derek Peebles, Executive Director of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Derek spoke on The Power of Local Economies. His presentation focused on the need to re-frame economic development policy to benefit local independent businesses. AMIBA is currently engaging in a project to assess, measure and implement a new program based on local asset-based community development. Derek explained this to the audience and revealed how this would benefit them. Austin is one of five pilot cities for the AMIBA program so local businesses will have a chance for grassroots participation soon.

Derek’s presentation gave the audience a bigger picture perspective of The Power of Local and a connectivity to the national local movement.

Derek Peebles, Director of the American Independent Business Alliance

As the new director of AMIBA, Derek is charting a new course for the Buy Local Movement in America. He is also the founder of Neighborhood Grow, an organization that leverages social capital, private capital, and technical expertise for sustainable neighborhood development and increased civic participation. Until accepting his current position at AMIBA, Derek was director of the Economics of Compassion Initiative, a step to support a sustainable and resilient economy for all citizens.

Power of Local Attractions

In addition to this full event activity, we also offered massage chairs compliments of Lauterstein Conway Massage School. This creates a more relaxing environment and is in line with our philosophy of the local business community providing what you need. We has two chairs staffed by students from Lauterstein Conway Massage School that were rarely empty. In fact, there was a waiting list for each chair. This service was free to attendees.

A buffet lunch was provided by all local restaurants. These included Pok-e-Jo’s Smokehouse, Wheatsville Food Co-op, Pasta & Co., Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery and Texas Coffee Traders. ACC offered recycling and composting collection as well las landfill. We took advantage of this by proving compostible plates, napkins, cups, forks and knives. This embraced The Power of Local Responsibility!

Thank you to our sponsors

In partnership with the Austin Independent Business Alliance