AIB Holds First Summit in Washington, D.C.

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The members of the Advocates for Independent Business hosted the first-ever AIB Summit in Washington, D.C., in December. The day-long meeting gave attendees the occasion to share ideas, set priorities, and discuss ways to work together on the challenges and opportunities ahead for independent businesses.

Organizations representing small businesses across multiple sectors attended the Summit. Along with most of AIB’s members, these included representatives from the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Fabric Shop Network, and the National Association of College Stores.

Over the course of the day, attendees discussed policy issues facing their members, including credit card swipe fees, access to capital, and concentration in their sectors.

“It was a very productive meeting,” says Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and coordinator of AIB. “We were very pleased to have other trade associations that haven’t been part of AIB join us for this in-depth, day-long strategy conversation. We came away having identified several great opportunities for expanding the localism message and engaging elected officials on key issues and challenges facing independent businesses.”

The day included a panel of independent business owners speaking about how community engagement and advocacy have been part of their success, and a keynote on the political landscape and how to frame this critical message at the federal level.

Since AIB launched in 2013, the coalition has worked on issues including online sales tax fairness, small business lending, and disclosure of corporate subsidies, and has been a voice for the broader concerns of independent businesses.

At the Summit, AIB reviewed its achievements so far, and also looked ahead. The Summit closed with a group discussion on opportunities for collaboration moving forward, and set shared priorities for 2017.