For more than 15 years the AIBA has listened to its members and voiced their concerns at City Hall. At times we have proposed local policies that could help create a more thriving local business community or to relieve a particularly painful part of doing business. At times we’ve had to react to something the City Council has proposed. More often we’ve spoken to illuminate issues troubling to local business.
Throughout the years we have always advocated for and fought for local business. Until recently this has been a wonderful process of building lasting relationships, of debating the issues of the day, of being heard and considering the perspective of others in our community. Sometimes we’ve had to agree to disagree but ending with respect and a handshake. Local business was never viewed as the enemy—until now.
The City of Austin has recently cancelled $60,000 in contracts with AIBA. These are longstanding contracts that have served both entities well. These cancellations all came within a month of publicly announcing our support of Unconventional Austin’s Proposition B—and with no explanation.
The cancellations were no coincidence. They were punishment for voicing support for something contrary to the City Council’s desire to expand the Convention Center without permitting the public to vote. The AIBA, a local nonprofit and the local business community it represents is being punished for expressing the views of its members. That is not OK.
We are advocating for the public to have a vote on Convention Center expansion and to spend a small amount of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) to promote local business to tourists. We’ve voted on every Convention Center expansion in the past and this one should be no different. However you might choose to vote on expansion, we just want you to have that opportunity.
Tourists who come to Austin are looking for what’s unique and different from where they live. They are looking to experience a different culture. Local business provides a fabulous expression of our local culture from clubs and restaurants to local shops. It is entirely appropriate that the city should promote our locals. It is also appropriate that as an organization of locally owned businesses, the AIBA should spotlight local businesses to benefit their own business and our local economy. It’s really that simple.
We are not so large that $60,000 doesn’t matter. It does. I have spent hours and hours looking at what services and programs we do for you that could be cut. But there is no fat here. So I’m asking you to step up and support the only organization in Austin dedicated to supporting you, our local businesses.
If you are already a member, consider a higher membership level or becoming a sponsor or partner. If you are not yet a member, join us at www.ibuyaustin.com/join. The City has taken your funding, but don’t let them damage our community. I can be reached anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-441-2123.
When I met with the Purchasing Department at Austin Community College, were excited to learn that the College is focusing on doing business with as many local businesses as possible! And they’ve worked to create a system that’s east to navigate, register and create sales for your business.
Think you’re too small for big college contracts? Think again. I was surprised to learn that purchases occur, not as an entire college, but by district and department. Think beyond reams of paper or janitorial supplies (but, yes, they need those too). Because ACC teaches so many practical classes, they need 100 spatulas for cooking classes and 50 wrenches for auto class. Volumes you can easily accommodate.
Austin Community College has created a new department called the ACC Small Business Development Program (SBDP) specifically for you. And that’s what makes this so exciting.
SBDP was established to encourage increased participation of small, local and emerging businesses in purchasing and contracting opportunities offered by the College. The SBDP is a race– and gender– neutral program that aims to ensure all segments of local businesses are provided the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in all purchasing and contracting opportunities.
ACC has developed an online vendor registration for all businesses that are interested in providing goods and services, professional services, non-professional services and construction services to the District. This list will also include certified Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) vendors.
To become a vendor with Austin Community College, you will need to register in the ACC management system by visiting www.austincc.edu/sbdpvendor and completing the registration process. Vendor registration is a two-step process, FIRST, create a profile in the nationwide diversity management system and SECOND, complete the ACC-specific vendor registration.
A Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) is defined as an independently owned firm that is not dominant in its industry, and that satisfies all requirements of being both a “Small Business Enterprise” and a “Local Business Enterprise.”
What are you waiting for? Register now. AIBA is excited to able to connect you with this great opportunity.
For more Information, contact:
Kelli Hollins, MS, MBA
Small Business Development Program Coordinator
Austin politics today are often unnecessarily divisive and destructive. Our community faces challenges in dealing with employer-employee issues such as paid sick leave, livable wages, and predictive scheduling. We have a great opportunity to come together to address these issues and find solutions. We are a smart, creative city. We can find solutions to even the most difficult problems—if we work collectively and respectfully. We need A Better Process.
Local businesses are a crucial part of our community. Entrepreneurs with the vision and drive to create small local businesses exemplify the hopes and dreams of everyone who wants to control their economic destiny. Their employees are part of their team, some consider them family. Local business owners care for their team in every way they can. We’re stewards of culture and commerce.
Cooperation will achieve the best results
Last year, AIBA formed a Better Process Committee tasked with researching other cities and states to find better processes to achieve our shared community goals. What we found led us to create a proposal for a better process to address employer-employee issues.
First, we propose a local study of each issue to identify the full scope of the problems. Accurate data and understanding the scope of a problem will lead to better, more targeted, solutions that help those who need it the most and won’t give state lawmakers cause to deprive us of local control.
The second step is to convene a Workplace Task Force of organizations representing all segments of business and employee organizations. This task force would be charged with reviewing the study of each problem and finding solutions to recommend to the City Council.
The third step is to take the time to do an impact study of any proposed policies. The speed of enacting the paid sick leave ordinance created an ordinance fraught with unintended consequences and left some feeling excluded.
Good government governs in the best interest of all the people, not just one group. Local policy should not provide benefits for one segment by punishing another. By working collectively, other communities have found ways to address their issues that worked for everyone. AIBA is proposing that Austin do the same. We are asking the Austin City Council to adopt A Better Process.
AIBA members can receive a free Facebook video. Just sign up! Once a week, AIBA shoots a short video promoting one of our members. It’s then posted on Facebook and made available to the member for their use. This only takes about 15 minutes. Did I mention that it’s free? I have openings beginning next week. Email Rebecca to reserve your’s.
The video can be a demonstration or instructional video up to five minutes or a quick pitch of what you can offer customers. We can do a walkthrough of your business or set up a stationary shoot. It’s up to you.
Check our Facebook page for the latest video of the Business Success Center.
Members have been asking about the local business community radio show we’ve been working on with KOOP Radio. Last fall we were invited to create a radio show that focused on local business and our role in the Austin community. We worked with KOOP Radio to develop a radio show appropriate for public radio and to train to become a programmer at KOOP. The Koop Programming Committee decided that a show about local business did not fit within the station format and denied our application. Since we have developed a show outline and content, we are exploring other options to use the material. We’ll keep you posted.