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While most independent retailers say the growth of Amazon is negatively affecting their businesses, a large share also report being better positioned than many national chains to weather the seismic shifts underway in the retail industry.
A new national survey of independent retailers finds that shifts in the retail sector are playing out differently for independents than they are for chains.
Click on the image to download the full report.
The survey, which was conducted by Advocates for Independent Business, gathered data from over 850 independent retailers in 49 U.S. states. Their responses yield valuable insight into how independent businesses are responding to the changing landscape — and about how they perceive the way their distinct attributes set them apart from retail chains and from Amazon.
The survey comes as national chains are declaring bankruptcy, malls are going dark, and e-commerce continues to grow. Headlines have started referring to a “historic tipping point” for American retail. Reporting on the issue, however, has focused almost exclusively on national chains.
The survey’s findings include:
Two-thirds of survey respondents report that, despite their smaller size, they have been able to respond to shifts in their sector as well as or better than national chains have.
Independent retailers identify distinct characteristics that they say give independents an advantage over chains as the retail landscape changes. Survey respondents cite four qualities as especially important: Personalized service, connection with community, product expertise, and ability to create experiences.
83% report that there have been chain store closures in their area that have left behind vacant spaces, and 17% describe the extent of these closures as “significant.” A majority of survey respondents — 51% — report that they see opportunities for independents in widespread chain store closures.
While respondents believe that independents are better positioned to survive Amazon’s growth, 90% of respondents also report that Amazon is having a negative impact on their business.
Despite the ways that these shifts are poised to impact local economies, only 9% of survey respondents say that there has been “a lot” of discussion and coverage of the issue locally, and 43% say that there’s been “very little” or “none.”
The survey report also includes vivid comments from independent business owners that capture their experiences in their own words. Advocates for Independent Business is available to connect reporters with nearby independent business owners for interviews about how they’re seeing these issues play out in their businesses and communities. READ MORE.
Did you know that where you spend your dollar counts?  Did you know that spending your money with local merchants means better schools, jobs, and services for your community?  
A new company, Spendindie (www.Spendindie.com) will help you redirect 13 trillion dollars in consumer spending back to your local community and the things you care the most about…All by shopping online.  
What is Spendindie?
Spendindie is a new online marketplace, connecting the incredible world of independent and local merchants with conscious consumers around the country.  By choosing to spend with independent and local shops, you build a much stronger economy and drive widespread prosperity.  
The Spendindie Impact:
Spendindie’s mission is to make local shopping accessible to everyone, everywhere.   This is the Spendindie imP.A.C.T.:
Partnerships: with local and independent social-minded businesses 
Awareness: for the communal benefits of local spending
Community:  Better communities through the economic change and widespread prosperity
Technology: that links local and independent businesses all over the country to conscious shoppers

This November 17th - Impact Your Community by Spending Indie 
On November 17th, Spendindie is open for local business in Austin.  Just go to www.Spendindie.com and shop like you normally would.  You’ll be making a difference in your community and enjoying the best goods and services from around Austin.

Spendindie is a proud partner of the Austin Independent Business Alliance.  think local, be local, buy local.

How much did your electricity cost you yesterday? Approximately 1,800 Austin Energy commercial customers are never surprised by their electric use and costs, thanks to their decision to use the Austin Energy Web App.This browser-based application allows you to monitor the energy usage of your business from your computer or smart devices. Usage can be viewed by cost or by kWh, and in daily or monthly increments – or even 15 minute increments if an interval meter has been installed at your business. You can also register for email or text alerts that will notify you of higher than anticipated usage.

The Austin Energy Web App can pay off in a significant way by helping small business customers avoid the demand charge, which is assessed when demand for power reaches 10 kilowatts or higher over the summer months. Even if that demand for power lasts just a few minutes, Austin Energy must purchase power and build its infrastructure to serve that demand. Tracking usage with the Web App, combined with minor changes in energy consumption habits – like unplugging coffee makers or staggering the time when the air conditioning system and other machines are turned on for the day – may allow commercial customers to avoid the demand charge.

Unusual spikes in energy use may also be a symptom of a malfunctioning air conditioning system or other large equipment. Regular usage monitoring with the Web App can give you a chance to find and correct the problem before you receive a high bill.

To use the Web App, just go to austinenergyapp.com and login using your City of Austin Utilities username and password or the account number and address on your utility bill. The Web App is also available for residential customers, so try it both at work and home!

AIBA, in partnership with Distance Learning Media, has been engaged to conduct a needs assessment survey of local businesses for the City of Austin. I’m asking that you take just a few minutes today and fill out the survey. 

You have the opportunity to shape the menu of business development tools the City of Austin offers small local businesses. What business development services do you need? What could you learn that would help you manage and grow your business? What information would help you thrive? Here’s your chance to help determine the services, resources and classes the City of Austin provides through the Small Business Program. Speak out now and reap the benefits.

The survey is short and won’t take much time. Help us help you by giving just a few minutes!

Take the survey now: HelpAustinThrive.com

I would also ask that you help by sending this to your business contact list or sharing it on your social media. Please use the text above and feel free to use the image as well.

Last night’s City Council meeting (August 31) provided a big win for local business by unanimously passing the resolution that diverts Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds from Visit Austin to other community assets including local business. The resolution sets aside $500,000 for “Local Business Marketing and Programming.” 
While that is a significant amount of money, the real value of this vote was the groundbreaking, official acknowledgment of the value of local business to tourism. Equally important is Austin’s leadership in the nation for innovative policies. To the best of our knowledge, Austin is the first city in the nation to devote HOT funds specifically to local business. Across the nation, no other independent business alliance has been involved in such an achievement.
Thank you to our City Council for approving this resolution. A very special thank you to the resolution’s sponsors, Council Members Ellen Troxclair, Ann Kitchen, Leslie Pool and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and their staff. Without their leadership and fight for this, the resolution never would have passed. 
While AIBA led the initiative for the local business component, the resolution also included parks, preservation and music. In particular, Bill Bunch, Director of Save Our Springs Alliance was a major force in propelling this to victory. 
AIBA members John Kunz, Waterloo Records; John Dorgan, Spiderhouse, I Luve Video and I Luv Vintage; Keith Miller, Authorized Credit Card Systems and Lynn Raridon, Forbidden Fruit came to City Hall to speak in favor of the resolution and in support of AIBA. The discussion began at 4:15. Four hours later, when we were called to speak, only John Kunz was able to remain and speak to the council. Thank you to all to came in support of AIBA.
What happens next?
This plan has a long way to go. It has to survive the rigors of upcoming budget discussions. It is not yet clear who and how this money will be administered and distributed. While we hope that AIBA plays a major role in the marketing and programming efforts, it is not designated to AIBA. The plan will be defined in the coming months.
But on this day, local business in Austin Texas won. 

As an independent business owner, making energy efficient upgrades to your space might seem too costly. Keep reading, because your luck is about to change for the better! If your business is on the Secondary Voltage 1 or 2 rates, it may qualify for an additional 30 percent bonus on 20+ standard commercial rebates through the Austin Energy Small Business Rebate Program. The rebated upgrades include air conditioning systems, roof insulation, reflective roof coating, window replacements, window tint, solar screens, Power Partner Wi-Fi enabled thermostats and much more.


Lighting system upgrades through the Small Business Rebate Program are a popular offering among businesses on the Secondary Voltage 1 or 2 rates. This program covers up to 80 percent of the cost of installing new energy-efficient lighting in your business. Below are a few more reasons to sign up today:

  • • State-of-the-art lighting can improve the effectiveness of your merchandise displays, attract shoppers and customers, engage employees and increase sales.
  • • Easy, convenient process with one contractor who will work around your schedule to avoid any disruption in your business.
  • • With Austin Energy paying for a majority of the project cost, your payback is usually around 12 to 24 months.

So, what are you waiting for? For more information about how you can make your business space more energy efficient and save money, visit austinenergy.com/go/commercial.  

I can’t help but notice the local change in Austin. Ten years ago, you might have seen an ad with “Family Owned and Operated” in tiny print at the bottom. Today, we shout “Locally Owned” from the top of our lungs in all forms of marketing. Why? Because local business owners recognize that local is a value embraced by their customers. Why? Because AIBA has been enlightening, educating and wooing your customers for more than fifteen years. 
So what about you, local business owner? Now that you see the value in your customers shopping locally, do you? Where do you buy all the goods and services needed for your business? Granted, you can’t buy everything locally but you can shift as much as possible to your fellow local businesses.
Need office supplies? Localize It. Need an accountant? Skip the national firms and Localize It. Same with employee benefits, insurance and payroll services—Localize It. Office furniture, vending services, decor—Localize It! Most of your needs can be taken care of by a local company.
And this is what the AIBA Community is all about—supporting one another and growing all our businesses. Before you make that next purchase, from paper clips to cars, Localize It!

Austin is a great place to live and run a business, but, let’s face it, the summers are brutal! Austin Energy has an easy way to better control your energy usage, save on your utility bill and put money back toward your bottom line with the Power Partner Thermostat Program. 


Austin Energy’s Power Partner Thermostat Program gives commercial customers up to $110 back for purchasing and installing an approved, Wi-Fi enabled thermostat and enrolling that thermostat in the energy cycling program.

These state-of-the-art thermostatscan give you the ability to control the temperature of one or more business facilities anywhere and anytime using your smart devices or computer. Some thermostat models also detect room occupancy for optimum energy usage, provide free monthly reports on energy savings and offer humidity control options.

Once you purchase and install your thermostat, apply for a $25 Power Partner Thermostat Installation Rebate. To receive an additional $85, sign up for the Power Partner Thermostat Energy Cycling Program and voluntarily allow brief adjustments to your thermostat’s temperature settings when demand for electricity is highest, like very hot summer weekdays between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. These adjustments occur no more than 17 days between June and September and help prevent outages community wide. Austin Energy does not perform energy cycling on weekends or holidays. 

To learn more about the Power Partner Thermostat Program for commercial customers, visit austinenergy.com/go/thermostat.

Survey available through August 25th
Through the end of August 25th, the City of Austin is asking for your input on the development of the Chapter 380 Performance-Based Contracts Policy that will establish goals and strategies to help increase workforce choices for all Austinites.
Click this link to take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/coaincentivesurvey
Hard copies of the survey can be obtained at City Hall or by calling 512-974-1357.
The survey will remain open until 5:00pm, August 25, 2017.
Learn more about the City’s Economic Development Policy and input process here: http://austintexas.gov/investinaustin
We welcome the locally owned Bank of Austin as Texas’ first new bank since 2009. The Bank of Austin helps fill the void of local banks here in Austin. Founded by a diverse group of Austin’s business leaders and financial professionals, this is a strong local bank focused on bettering our community and building vital business relationships. As true strategic partners, they cultivate long-term, loyal relationships. They are the local bank with customized financial solutions to help Austin businesses grow, manage risk and optimize cash flow.

We’re all business. The Bank of Austin is here to provide you with technologies and capabilities of a big bank, with the personal signature service of a hometown bank. “Our promise is to provide you, your business and our community with a better bank for business. Just what you’d expect from a bank based on local ownership and local management.”
AIBA has been educating customers for 15 years about the benefits of shopping locally, preferably with our members. Isn’t it time you bank local?

Like clockwork, energy bills usually go up during the hot summer months, especially as air conditioners work overtime.  Austin Energy wants to help! The first step in managing high energy bills is to learn how much electricity you are using.  Austin Energy’s web app helps you do that—it tracks daily energy use and alerts customers when usage approaches a higher-priced commercial rate class. Registration is simple—all you need is your City of Austin Utilities username and password or the account number and address on your utility bill. From there, you can access the web app and start tracking your electricity usage patterns.

Of course, reducing energy usage can also help you manage your utility bills. Tips like setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs or compact fluorescents, and powering down unnecessary business equipment when not in use can help you save every month. You can lower inside temperatures by taking easy steps such as using fans in occupied spaces and drawing the window shades. Consider setting the thermostat to 85 degrees when your business facility is unoccupied or after business hours to help keep your energy costs lower.

You can also increase the efficiency of your air conditioning unit by making sure condenser coils are clean and removing tall grass or debris clogging the unit. Austin Energy’s Commercial Rebate Program offers 20+ rebates and incentives to assist your business in replacing AC systems and other energy-saving upgrades, such as roof insulation, reflective roof coating, window replacements, window tint, solar screens, Power Partner Wi-Fi enabled thermostats and more. 

There are really only three reasons to be an AIBA member. 
1. Because you believe in what we’re doing.
2. Because we can help you and your business.
3. Because we can embrace you in a community of your peers—the AIBA Community.
Everything we do, everything we offer, everything we are, falls into one of these three reasons. But these are three powerful reasons to belong to a community.
1. Because you believe in what we’re doing.
From advocacy for local business to educating the public about shopping locally, we focus on the needs, interests and concerns of our members. Fifteen years ago, when AIBA was born, no one talked about locally owned as a value. Now it’s part of our community’s value system and part of their decision making as a consumer. Ten years ago local business was bidding against out of town and out of state companies to get contracts with the City of Austin. Today, local businesses get 10 extra points for being locally owned—often enough to get the contract. Five years ago there was little conversation at City Hall about local business. There was a nod to small business but little recognition to the economic powerhouse that locally owned businesses represent. Today the dialogue has shifted to the impact and concerns of local business owners. None of this happened accidentally.
Advocacy is the one thing that we cannot do alone. It take a community of voices to achieve change. If you believe, as we do, that local business is the bedrock of our economy, culture and community, you must be a member of AIBA.
2. Because we can help you and your business.
What is it that you need? What does your business need? The answers will vary from more customers to employee advice to a fresh perspective to favorable loan terms and more. We work to provide what you need both personally and for your business. Need an introduction to another member? Just ask. Need a little education on social media trends. Just ask or come to one of our luncheon events. Need to gain more customers? Whether you are B to B, B to C or both, we’ll spread the word to potential customers for you. In fact, we are the only business organization (actually we are a Chamber of Commerce for local business) that markets our members to customers. 
Looking to triple your business? We don’t have a magic wand (although we think our community is pretty magical). Only you can grow your business. But AIBA is a great tool to have in your toolbox.
3. Because we can embrace you in a community of your peers—the AIBA Community.
Look up the definition of community and you’ll find “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” That certainly describes the AIBA Community. The fellowship of your peers provides more than a sense of well-being, although that is hugely important. It provides insight, feedback, understanding, advice, a laugh when you need it and shoulder when you seek it. 
Perhaps my favorite definition is a scientific one. “A group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.” We are all different businesses. We are all in the Austin community. Most importantly, we are all interdependent. We support one another, both in using other local businesses for our own business and personal needs (you do, right?) and referring business to one another. By being interdependent while we’re independent, we are not alone. 
On July 17-19, AIBA asked members what they thought about the proposed expansion of the Convention Center. AIBA has always been the advocate for local business in Austin and we ask our members' opinions when the direction isn't apparently clear. As usual, local business spoke out clearly and difinitively about this issue. Read the results and comments here.
89% voted against expanding the Convention Center.
Following is the text introduction to the survey:
In order to better represent the local business community, we need to know where you stand on this issue. This is a complicated issue, so to help you consider this, we've pulled together a few bullet points and some links to more information. 
  • The Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds collected are expected to be $92 million this year and projected to reach $100 million next year.
  • 80% of these funds go to the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB—recently renamed Visit Austin).
  • Only 2% of Austin's visitors attend a convention at the Convention Center and SXSW accounts for one third of those.
  • Visit Austin claims that the expansion is needed to compete for larger conventions but SOS Alliance claims that the convention industry is flat and not expanding.
  • The Convention Center lost $24.3 million in 2016.
  • The expansion is projected to cost $600 million but does not include land purchases, lost property taxes or Convention Center loses.
  • The appropriation of the HOT funds has little to do with the expansion of the Convention Center. 
Additional information can be found in the Austin American Statesman's article, the Mayor's Press Release and the SOS Alliance Fact Sheet.
In full disclosure, AIBA has been petitioning the City Council to appropriate .5% of the HOT funds to create programs with local business for tourism. The impact of local business on tourism in undeniable yet local business does not benefit from the funds generated by visitors to our city. Local business is the creator of our local vibe, culture and local experience and should be recognized as such. 

As previously reported, I attended the Visitor Impact Task Force meetings representing local business and AIBA. My goal was to illuminate the significant, dare I say dominate, role of local business in attracting tourists. Local business and the very Austin scene we create is what people come here for. Tourists want to eat at our local restaurants, shop at our local businesses and tap a toe at our local clubs while listening to local musicians (local businesses one and all).Local business is also the economic driver of tourism. While tourists visit parks and gawk at the capitol, they spend money in businesses...local businesses to be precise. Obvious right?

While the Task Force was directed to review appropriation of the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT), AIBA was asking ofr .5% of HOT funds to create programing that tourists could partake of and promote local business to tourists. Yes, that's one half of one percent. Doesn't sound like much considering we're the cornerstone of the local economy. But the Task Force didn't see fit to include local business at all in its recommendations to City Council.

I've been busy in June visiting with City Council members about the importance of local business to tourism. It's not a hard sell. It's pretty obvious. The response has been very supportive. But, as you know, talk is cheap. The Task Force is making their recommendations but they are only that...recommendations. City Council can choose differently. Let's hope they choose local business.

The Air Conditioned Scavenger Hunt is one of our most popular programs and it's returning beginning July 1! It's a fun, online game for shoppers to find your business. Customers start with a clue to a member business (we write this). When they figure out the clue, your listing contains a clue that leads them to another member until they've found all the clues. Customers then register for a drawing of gift certificates from local businesses. Here's where you come in.

Donate two gift certificates for your business with a value of at least $25.00 and your business is featured as one of the clues. There are five clues per week and five drawings for prizes (one of your gift certificates). Players must come to your business to redeem their prize. The second gift certificate is held for a grand prize basket at the end of the game.

The Air Conditioned Scavenger Hunt runs from July 1 through August 12. it's fun. It brings attention to your business. And all it costs are the gift certificates. 

Ready to participate? Just email Rebecca to register tand send us two gift certificates.

AIBA has been involved in the Visitor Impact Task Force meetings to evaluate the use and distribution of Hotel Occupancy Taxs (HOT). In the final meeting on May 23, the Visitor Impact Task Force voted to leave local business out of funding recommendations. While AIBA has presented the case for local businesses' importance to tourism (see presentation documents here), the Task Force declined to support our efforts. The recommendations from the Task Force to City Council are just that—recommendations that can be accepted or changed. I will be visiting with council members throughout June to make a final appeal for local business. 

The Task Force was directed by City Council in City Council Resolution 20160818-075 to ”Make recommendations to the City Council about how to best utilize all hotel occupancy revenue to impact tourism by April 1, 2017.” There are basically two portions of funds being discussed: the current HOT funds and a proposed 2% increase in taxes. The 2% will only take effect if the city decides to expand the Convention Center. This 2% will initially be used to retire debt on the existing Convention Center. After an estimated two years, the 2% would be available for other uses. ACVB (including the Convention Center) and Cultural Arts receive all but a tiny portion of existing HOT funds. The Task Force did not touch the current funds distributed to ACVB and Cultural Arts and instead chose to only address the proposed 2% increase in HOT. AIBA was asking for .5% of HOT funds. Yes, that's one half of one percent.

Once again, there is no support for local bsuiness. We'll see if our City council chooses to support local business through these funds.

If you choose to take action, please email your City Council Member and support the request of .5% of HOT funds going to local bsuienss through AIBA.

I have been attending (and speaking at) the last four Visitor Impact Task Force meetings. My purpose has been to bring to light the importance of local business to tourism. After all, local business provides the culture, the vibe, the fun, the uniquely Austin flavor that tourists love to experience. I have presented a series of compelling presentations pointing out why local business should be included in the considerations and, specifically, why AIBA is the organization to oversee this. Read the presentations here. But all is not well in Task Force Land. 

The City Council directed the task force to ”make recommendations to the City Council about how to best utilize all hotel occupancy revenue to impact tourism by April 1, 2017.”  What began as an objective overview of best use practices for Hotel Occupancy Taxes has eroded into the haves and have-nots. The two majority entities already receiving HOT funds are the Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) and Cultural Arts. Both are represented on the Task Force (see all members here). Having these two powerhouses on the Task Force has enevitably led to the haves and everyone else—the have nots.These two entities control most of the HOT funds. Arts (represented by LuLu Flores) and ACVB (represented by Tom Moonan) have laid down the law that no one is touching their money and, to date, this has not been challenged. This is a tactic of bullying and intimidation. 

While the majority of the task force is just trying to do their job without confrontation, some have painted a picture with less than the truth. Since AIBA was the focus of these deceptions, I have informed the task force of the truth. Read AIBA's letter in the task force meeting backup material. Mr. Noonan made several erroneus statements regarding ACVB's relationship with AIBA (spoiler alert-there isn't one) and proclaimed that ACVB promotes the local business community, AIBA and the IBIZ Districts. Our recent survey says otherwise but more on that later.

It's time to show the City Council and the Task Force that local business is listening and we are not amused. Take action now. Come to the next Task Force meeting on May 23 at 5:30, Hyatt Regency on Barton Springs Rd, Foothills 2 Room when Citizen's Communication is scheduled. You don't have to speak but show our force. Write to your Council Member and tell them that local business is driver of tourism (and sales taxes). Go on Speak Up Austin and share your views on including and funding local business. But most of all, Be Vocal for Local.

Originally published by ILSR, written by Olivia LaVecchia
Cities are changing to become increasingly inhospitable to locally owned businesses. As older buildings get replaced by new development, commercial real estate prices soar, and national chains seek new markets, independent businesses are struggling to find space that’s appropriate and affordable for their needs. The result is that longtime businesses are getting priced out of the neighborhoods they’ve been serving for years, and entrepreneurs are facing higher barriers to starting new businesses. When this happens, local business owners lose, but so do cities and the people who live in them.
ILSR’s Olivia LaVecchia recently joined with policymakers and advocates at Hopeful Economics, a summit co-hosted by the City of Vancouver and Simon Fraser University, to explore this issue. In this 20-minute talk, Olivia discusses what’s causing the problem, why it matters — and six policy strategies that cities are using to address it.
Austin Energy benchmarks in the top quartile for providing reliable power, but when the lights go out, it’s critical that we offer you quick, accurate information and updates. Austin Energy’s new Two-Way Outage Communication system will offer our customers clear, concise, mobile-friendly information and updates. This system will allow customers to report outages via SMS text messages and in turn, Austin Energy will proactively provide updates on restoration progress and estimated restoration times. Customers will be able to view information on an upgraded, mobile-friendly online outage map currently known as "Storm Center." Testing is scheduled to be completed in June, with a go-live date set for July. Contact your Key Account Manager for participation details.
We’ve set aside two dates for our customers to tour some of Austin Energy’s power plants. Please RSVP to Diane.Mercado@austinenergy.com if you’re able to attend, and she will send you more details.
• Webberville Solar on Tuesday, May 16 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
• Sand Hill Energy Center on Friday, May 19 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
The City of Austin’s Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure ordinance requires commercial buildings within the Austin city limits that receive electricity from Austin Energy to calculate and submit an annual energy rating by June 1. The ordinance applies to commercial buildings 10,000 square feet or larger.
The building owner or the person who submitted ECAD data last year received a letter in mid-April explaining two the reporting options:
1. Use the unique Building Owner Key Code in the letter associated with the buildings you own or manage. Go to the website to acknowledge the property information and energy use data for your building(s), calculated based on size and property type.
2. For those wanting more detailed information, we encourage you to use the EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool. 
If you have not received information regarding the ECAD ordinance reporting process, please call 512-482-5346 or email us for assistance  
If you have any questions, or if you would like to receive outage alerts regarding your facilities, please contact Murray Jones at Murray.Jones@austinenergy.com. We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

The Armadillo Awards were a smashing success with 300 in attendance! Great local food from Hoover's Cooking, Lucky's Puccias, Pasta & Co. and Wheatsville Food-Coop. Rick McNulty totally hit the music vibe for the evening and the Roller Girls were in the house! Of course Indy was there to pose with guests. Quack's 43rd St. Bakery donated an amazing Armadillo Cake to celebrate AIBA's 15th Birthday. Four raffle collections of items and services from local bsuinesses worth more than $7,500 were won by lucky audience members.

A very special thank you to our sponsors: Austin Energy, City of Austin Economic Development, Wheatsville Food Co-op, TXRD, Ideal ProductionsAuthorized Credit Card Systems, The Sleep Center of Austin, Mike's Print Shop, SystemSeven, The Bumper Sticker, AO Tours, COMNIO, Freestyle Language Center, RK Audiology and SOS Alliance.

See the finalists and winners!

Thank you to all who came and enjoyed the Flavor of Local!

There’s a division at City Council that I find disturbing. Simply put, it pits workers vs. business. I’ve seen this on several issues lately, most recently the affordability plan. Discussions that began with construction workers now include all workers. Goals went from raising as many as possible out of poverty to every worker attaining middle class. None of us want to see anyone living in poverty. We all want doors open and a hand up given to those in need. America was built on opportunity and we need to stay vigilant to ensure we remain the land of opportunity for all.
But the workers vs. business mentality is a divisive and destructive lens through which to view a variety of issues through. Perhaps this is a reflection of national politics but it’s rather alarming on our own City Council. The tone and comments from Council Chambers at City Hall place this as workers=good, business=bad. This paints the picture of the big, bad businesses abusing the poor, vulnerable workers. Unfortunately there are big, bad businesses and there are poor, vulnerable workers. But this broad paintbrush paints every business as a menace. 
As Executive Director of AIBA, I find this perspective seriously inaccurate and offensive. The local business community is not made up of big, bad businesses yet in this simplistic division, we are the menace. Local businesses are responsible for 85% of the job growth in Austin, provide the cornerstone of our local economy, express and support our local culture and make this city thrive. Yet at City Hall, somehow local businesses are viewed as part of the problem for workers. Since most of our local businesses are small, I would submit further that we, too, are the workers. But we’re also the local businesses. Simplistic just got more complicated. 
I challenge the City Council to find ways to help local business hire more people and pay them more. AIBA has made numerous proposals over the past seven years to no avail. Big business gets tax breaks and red carpets. Local business gets roadblocks and more regulation. It makes headlines and puts feathers in caps when a company moves here with a thousand jobs. But local business adds jobs every week, every month, every year. How about local business feathers for caps at City Hall?
The world is rarely black and white. I would ask our City Council to cease and desist painting the local business community as the enemy of the worker.