Idaho Main Street Alliance

Visit our Idaho Main Street Alliance website.

Small business owners. Small business values.

A Project of the Alliance for a Just Society

The Main Street Alliance was born in 2008, born out of the desire of everyday small business owners to have a voice – in fact, to share our own voices – in decisions that impact small businesses and the communities where we serve customers, create jobs, and live.

Many small business owners had a sneaking suspicion we weren’t getting represented like we deserved by the existing business lobby groups, not in state capitols and not in Washington, DC, either. These groups purported to represent small business interests, but time and time again their stands on issues benefited large corporate interests (like health insurance companies, Wall Street banks, or big oil and gas companies) – at our expense. It was a clear-cut case of identity theft.

Then along came some simple yet powerful ideas. Business owners speaking for themselves instead of being “spoken for” by lobbyists. Impact through strength in numbers. Small business values that run deeper than anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric. Business owners and our customers joining together to fight for our communities. The Main Street Alliance was born.

– Main Street Alliance National Steering Committee

Background:

The Alliance for a Just Society (formerly the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations) began supporting state-based small business organizing projects in 2005 with its state affiliates in Idaho and Washington, and then worked with partner groups in other states to replicate this model. In 2008, we launched the Main Street Alliance project as a national network of 10 state-based small business coalitions working to advance health reform in the interests of true small businesses (not big business lobbies that steal the name of small business to advance a special interest agenda).

Now, MSA works with partners in about 15 states to continue engaging and mobilizing small business owners around a wide range of issues, advancing a small business values frame that connects the interests of business owners to the needs of the communities that sustain them. Through the Main Street Alliance, the Alliance for a Just Society has built and leveraged relationships with small businesses to build power and impact public policy in a number of arenas.

Key Features of the Main Street Alliance Organizing Model:

  •  MSA small business owners speak for themselves: We create opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves, at the same time telling personal stories and speaking on behalf of the thousands of business supporters across the network.
  •  MSA builds from the ground up in the states: Our state coalitions are building a membership base and steering committees of business owners to engage at the state level and impact key policy decisions; we aggregate the state work into a national presence.
  •  MSA represents the true breadth of the small business community: Business owners across key constituencies and communities (women, communities of color, immigrant communities) are leaders in the state coalitions and our national Steering Committee.
  •  MSA builds organization within organizations to maximize alignment and impact: We partner with anchor organizations in the states who organize small business coalitions within their organizations to capitalize on existing organizational infrastructure, ground our work in strong organizing cultures, draw on established relationships, and maintain close alignment of priorities.

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