In early 2009, local business advocate and sustainable business consultant Amy Robinson convened a meeting of community members. The meeting presented a few folks from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) in the US, and gauged the amount of passion for local. It was strong.
A working group formed. In November 2009 we incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. We choose LOCO as a kind of acronym for LOCAL COMPANY, that also encompasses the values of LOCAL COMMUNITY, and LOCAL CONNECTIONS. We know it means crazy in Spanish. Maybe we’re a little of that too. But we hope you’ll come to think of all things local when you hear LOCO.
In 2010 we joined BALLE as a member network. BALLE is a network connecting local business networks across North America to share best practice and create a revolution out of the Buy-Local movement. You might remember that there used to be a former BALLE member network in BC called BALLE BC. Some of us involved in LOCO were involved with BALLE BC in some way. We became enamored with the concept of creating local economies, supporting living wages, social and environmental justice by supporting and influencing local business. BALLE BC folded a number of years ago after a period of financial mismanagement. They had accumulated debt and ruined relationships with several partners, suppliers and contractors. Amy and Lisa both resigned from the BALLE BC Board well before its demise, each working in their own way to help either resurrect the organization, or help it wrap up with integrity. From the experience, we take the lessons of both what to do and what not to do in growing a local business network. And we think that makes us stronger, more careful, more savvy, less reliant on grants – more scrappy and entrepreneurial. For one thing, have focused heavily on setting up proper financial systems, creating accounting checks and balances, and on building Board financial literacy. We tell you this story so that you’ll understand how we’re not just a reincarnation of the old BALLE BC.