November 2013

Thinking Local First—The BALLE Model for Sustainable Communities and the Green Chamber


Celerah Hewes-Rutledge


One of the most essential aspects of our mission at the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce (NMGCC) is to support local economies, as we believe that a vibrant locally owned business community is necessary to a sustainable New Mexico. We also believe that local businesses can be green businesses. That is why our established Green Chamber chapters around the state are members of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). The BALLE model for sustainable communities emphasizes that local ownership means a stronger and more profitable community. Local business owners are more accountable to their communities, often pay a higher wage, and are happier with their vocation. By encouraging localism, we become a greener state.


By choosing to support local business, we not only reduce the amount of carbon emissions that are necessary to bring products to consumers, we also make our state a place where community comes first. While this is true in manufacturing and retail, it is also true in food production and energy—two areas where New Mexico could be a national leader. Thinking local is about bringing together people to become more self-sufficient—part of the path to being green. As traditional green industries and businesses capitalize on the green trend, the Green Chamber encourages a broad range of locally owned businesses to claim ownership of their green potential as well.


To help strengthen local business, the Green Chamber chapters around the state participate in Think Local First promotion and education. Four of our five local chapters have partnered with local publications to produce a Think Local Guide. The Viva Verde Guide in southwest New Mexico and Think Local Guides in Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Taos help direct consumers to buy local and help independently owned businesses define themselves as local, while also providing educational information about the benefits of buying local and supporting the community. Santa Fe will be joining the rest of the chapters with its first Think Local Guide in 2014.


The Green Chamber also participates in BALLE’s national Shift Your Shopping campaign. This effort takes place throughout November and December and is directed at getting consumers to spend more money at local businesses during the holiday season. By educating people on the benefits of shopping locally during the busiest time of year for retail businesses, the Green Chamber hopes that people will continue to support local business year-round. We partner with local city and county governments to host events and promote local shopping across the state.


As the Green Chamber and BALLE move forward with the Think Local First message, we are working to help New Mexico establish itself as a leader in sustainable business. If we all come together to keep it local, we can keep more money in our regional economy and continue to support the diversity of the New Mexico businesses that make our state so unique. Please help us support Green Chamber businesses. Think Local First!


For more information on Think Local First programs and Shift Your Shopping campaigns, visit:



Celerah Hewes-Rutledge is the chief operations officer for the NMGCC and has been with the Green Chamber since January, 2011. She was born in Corrales, NM.




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