By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Front Royal Independent Business Alliance officially announced its launch Thursday, and is now accepting membership applications.
The alliance was formed by a group of five individuals, after they found out about the American Independent Business Alliance's movement to support local businesses. The American Independent Business Alliance is involved in over 80 towns and cities in 39 states, according to Craig Laird, owner of Royal Oak Computers and a founder of the alliance.
Laird explained that Front Royal has attempted to hop on the shop local bandwagon for some time, but "nothing ever stuck." The five founders realized that the initial dues for the national alliance were "a little substantial."
"Our steering committee brought together five people from different segments of the local business community," Laird said. "By the end of the first meeting, we decided that it was well worth the investment."
There are several options for citizens to be a part of the local alliance, and there are fees associated with each. The first 100 business members will become founding members and pay $50 for the initial year instead of $125. Other options include applying to be a local non-profit member, a non-business "friend," or an associate member. There are different benefit packages for each, Laird said.
The application lists requirements for business membership, such as a private or nonprofit ownership within Warren County; owned and operated (greater than 51 percent) by an area resident; free to make business and marketing decisions without outside approval; and six or fewer branches or outlets. Laird said that bigger chain stores can also be involved by supporting local events through funding or donations.
"We're all a part of the community, and we aren't against any portion of it. We just want a level playing field in advertising for the locals and independents," Laird said.
The alliance plans to utilize social media outlets as a way to let citizens know about different campaigns or specials going on at local businesses. The first goal listed by the alliance is "educating citizens about the value of community-based businesses and their importance to the local economy, culture and social fabric."
"Each dollar spent locally amounts to three dollars of residual effects on the community," Laird said, and added that one catch phrase of the alliance is "Put your money where your house is."
Laird also said that the goal is to have 100 businesses signed up in the first six months after the launch, but he said he thinks it could possibly happen in the first month, especially with the discounted prices.
"We have a waiting list already. This is attracting businesses that haven't had a voice in the past and have issues, concerns and needs that are not being met in the community," he said. "It's very much a member-driven organization."
The alliance will regularly hold "member meetings" and "learning mixers" to help educate specific businesses.
"People want to get back to their roots and do things locally," Laird said. "There's a sincere need for this."
For more information on the Front Royal Independent Business Alliance, visit www.FrontRoyalIBA.org.