Resources for Local Economy

Below is a sample of resources that explain or promote local economy activities throughout the country.


Local Business and Ownership

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is North America’s fastest growing network of socially responsible businesses, comprised of over 80 community networks with over 21,000 independent business members across the U.S. and Canada.

The ICA Group
The ICA Group is a national not-for-profit organization which seeks to create and save jobs through the development and strengthening of employee-owned cooperatives and community-based projects.

Local First Utah
Local First Utah is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to strengthen communities and local economies by promoting, preserving, and protecting local, independently owned businesses throughout Utah.

Austin Independent Business Alliance
Austin Independent Business Alliance is a nonprofit organization of locally owned and operated independent businesses that have joined together to promote the cultural and economic benefits of shopping locally.

Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security
For 15 years, WAGES, Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security, has worked with low-income immigrant Latinas to launch green business cooperatives, a model that enables women to work together to succeed. WAGES provides training and technical assistance to incubate the co-ops and a framework for continued learning and business growth through their Co-op Network.

Cooperative Development Institute
A non-profit organization founded in 1985, Cooperative Development Services has provided consulting services for over 500 cooperatives in a number of sectors, including food co-ops, senior housing co-ops, forestry co-ops, and value-added agriculture.

Local Energy 

Co-op Power is a regional network of local communities creating a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future and operates a consumer-owned energy cooperative serving New England and New York.

Chanute, KS Local Energy Company
The Chanute Municipal Electric Utility is one of the largest municipal electrical producers in Kansas.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is a private nonprofit organization, founded in 1976, which operates a series of publicly-funded projects to promote self-reliance (especially for low-income people) through wise use of appropriate technology. Its programs deal with energy conservation, resource-efficient housing, sustainable community development, and sustainable agriculture.

Local Capital

Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF)
LEAF Provides Flexible Financing to Cooperatives and Social Purpose Ventures. LEAF’s mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to community-based and employee-owned businesses that create and save jobs.

Ithaca Hours
Ithaca Hours is a local currency system that promotes local economic strength and community self-reliance in ways which will support economic and social justice, ecology, community participation and human aspirations in and around Ithaca, New York.

Alternatives Federal Credit Union (Ithaca, NY)
Alternatives Federal Credit Union was founded by the Alternatives Group, which brought together community groups, cooperatives, and worker-owned enterprises. It has over $51 million in assets. In addition to providing consumer loans, the credit union also operates an individual development account program, a student credit union, and provides business loans.

SJF Ventures (Durham, NC)
SJF Ventures (originally known as the “Sustainable Job Fund”) is a community development venture capital fund. To date, SJF has invested more than $10.3 million in 18 companies, helping to retain 1000 jobs and create an additional 1200 jobs. Investment in a company is contingent on the company signing a covenant, with mutually agreed upon goals regarding job creation, facility location, and environmental impact.

Self-Help Federal Credit Union
The nonprofit Center for Community Self-Help and its financing affiliates Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and Self-Help Ventures Fund provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services, and advocacy for those left out of the economic mainstream.

Independent Community Bankers of America
Community banks focus attention on the needs of local families, businesses, and farmers. Unlike many larger banks that may take deposits in one state and lend in others, community banks channel most of their loans to the neighborhoods where their depositors live and work, helping to keep local communities vibrant and growing.


Land Trust Alliance
The Land Trust Alliance promotes voluntary private land conservation to benefit communities and natural systems.  It is the national convener, strategist and representative of more than 1,700 land trusts across America.

Central Vermont Land Trust
In its efforts to create and preserve safe, decent and affordable housing, the Central Vermont Community Land Trust addresses the shortage of affordable housing and the housing affordability gap for low and moderate income residents, in part, through rental properties and homes for sale.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (Roxbury, MA)
In 1988, DSNI had succeeded in getting the city to grant it eminent domain power so the group could acquire vacant land through a community land trust to implement its community revitalization plan. To date, 144 new homes and 2 community facilities have been built on land held by the trust.

Cuyahoga Land Bank (Cleveland, OH)

In an effort to mitigate the effects of the ongoing foreclosure crisis, the Cuyahoga Land Bank ensures that vacant properties are properly maintained and sold to qualifying inhabitants or developers. Land can even be used for community green space, urban agriculture, storm water management, or other ecological aims.

Local Agriculture

LocalHarvest is America’s #1 organic and local food website. It maintains the definitive and reliable “living” public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources that helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area.

Slow Food
Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system by reconnecting Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. It works to raise public awareness, improve access and encourage the enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal and sustainably grown

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (Western North Carolina)
ASAP helps create and expand local food markets that will preserve our agricultural heritage, give everyone access to fresh, healthy food, and keep our farmers farming. Its mission is to collaboratively create and expand regional community based and integrated food systems that are locally owned and controlled, environmentally sound, economically viable, and health-promoting.

Food Routes
The FoodRoutes Network (FRN) is a national nonprofit organization that provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. FRN is dedicated to reintroducing Americans to their food – the seeds it grows from, the farmers who produce it, and the routes that carry it from the fields to their tables.

Fresh Farm Rhode Island
Farm Fresh Rhode Island is growing a local food system that values the environment, health and quality of life of RI farmers and eaters.

Local Production

Grow Montana
Grow Montana is a broad-based coalition whose common purpose is to promote community economic development policies that support sustainable Montana-owned food production, processing, and distribution, and that improve its citizens’ access to Montana foods.


The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition
Michael H. Shuman
Berrett-Koehler, 2006

Companies We Keep (Revised & Expanded): Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place [Paperback]
John Abrams
Chelsea Green Publishing (2 edition), 2008

Getting To Scale: Growing Your Business Without Selling Out
Jill Bamburg
Berrett-Koehler, 2009

Localist Movements in a Global Economy: Sustainability, Justice, and Urban Development in the United StatesDavid J. Hess
MIT Press, 2000

The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation
Greg LeRoy
Berrett-Koehler, 2009

Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth
David C. Korten
Berrett-Koehler, 2009

Promoting Sustainable Local and Community Economic Development
By Roland V. Anglin
2010 by CRC Press, 2010

Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses
Stacy Mitchell and the Institute for Local Self Reliance
Beacon Press, 2011