For Local Economy leaders from more than 26 states, AMIBA’s first-ever Virtual Conference broke extensive new ground, both in content and in experience.  The first conference in the Local Economy Movement to treat racial equity as a centrally important issue, and the first to have a majority of speakers drawn from Black-led organizations, the conference also featured a fast-paced approach that combined short presentations, small group breakouts, interviews and even poetry to fully engage every participant.  The conference also benefited from the reflections and guidance of Peter Block of Abundant Communities, who framed the discussions within larger issues of justice and integrity, and guided small group discussions with thoughtful questions. 

Thanks to the ease and low cost of the virtual experience, several IBAs brought not only their own staff, but a cohort of other community leaders, ranging from independent business owners to city staff.   These groups not only attended together, but they met before and after the conference to explore their shared priorities and find new ways to collaborate. 

The first day’s speakers focused on the impact and experience of Black and minority populations in local economies, with topics ranging from the importance of building bridges and asking for help, to the history and impact of the Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Segun Idowu, Executive Director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, provided the keynote presentation.

The second day’s speakers focused largely on strategies for enabling the vitality of all independent businesses, including those operated by Black and underrepresented populations.  Katie Frank, Managing Partner of Zingerman’s ZingTrain service, provided a keynote that encouraged businesses to use the pandemic as an opportunity to explore new strategies and tackle new challenges.

Video segments from the speakers will be posted here in coming weeks.  To find out about new video releases and other information, be sure to follow this blog, as well as AMIBA’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

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