Local First hosting 10th Annual BALLE Business Conference E-mail

by Chelsea Slocum

500 of the nation's brightest sustainable business entrepreneurs are coming to Grand Rapids to participate in the 10th Annual BALLE Business Conference, and you can have a front row seat.

Local First, a non-profit organization focused on building a strong, sustainable economy in Grand Rapids, will be hosting the national event on May 15-18, 2012. Founded in 2003, they have formed partnerships with 600 local businesses and grown to become the largest organization supporting and advocating for locally owned businesses in the Midwest. "Hosting this conference is quite an honor," says Elissa Hillary, Executive Director of Local First. "This is our chance to showcase Grand Rapids on a national level and show participants what a vibrant and sustainable community we have developed."

Themed “Real Prosperity Starts Here,” the three-day conference is jam-packed with a variety of different events including daily keynote speeches, expert panel discussions, workshops, facility tours, networking events, and receptions. Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream will be among the list of notable presenters as well Ari Weinzweig of Zimmerman’s Community of Businesses. Local First is also hosting a pre-conference accelerating community capital day with it’s own set of keynote speakers and workshops. “I think our sessions surrounding community capital will be of great interest to local business leaders,” says Elissa. “We have to understand how to meet our regional needs with regional resources and identify the community capital needed to get there. Participating in discussions with national experts on this subject is the first step.”

Registration is open and the public is encouraged to attend this dynamic event. People have the opportunity to register for the entire conference, purchase a day pass, or split a full conference registration amongst multiple individuals. "Our goal is to provide the public with economical attendance options ensuring that everyone has a chance to participate," says Elissa. Registration is open until the start of the conference, though the prices do increase as the date approaches.

When asked what it means to create a sustainable local economy Elissa replied, “It means increasing the quality of life for everyone, developing unique, vibrant business districts, and retaining local talent. When you spend money at locally owned businesses 73% of that revenue stays in our community.” Local First is bringing some of the nation's most innovative and inspiring sustainable thinkers to our backyard. This is our chance to take part in a national discussion focused on elevating our local economy and making Grand Rapids an even better place to live and work.

For more information on the BALLE Conference or to register, please go to www.localfirst.com.

Chelsea Slocum is a resident of Grand Rapids. She works as an educator and enjoys learning about new and different things happening in the city. Follow her on twitter @cslocum.


Published: April 25, 2012

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