Our own Tonya Surman has been named to the 2016 cohort of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Local Economy Fellowship.
Tonya joins 36 leaders recognized as representing some of the most innovative local economic and community development solutions in the U.S. and Canada. Together, this group of Localists serves more than 52,400 local businesses, and impacts another 471,000 small businesses through work in government and policy.
Not only is Tonya joining North America’s only fellowship focused on advancing local economies, she is also now part of a growing leadership network of more than 100 BALLE fellows, local economy investors, and community foundation leaders. Together this network is proving that when seemingly small, local efforts come together, much is possible in transforming our whole economy toward one that works for all people.
“The leaders selected for this cohort represent the direction we believe we need to go as a nation and as a planet,” says BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long. “Each of the 2016 Fellows are working to bring more accountability, personal relationships, and compassion to business. Collectively we see in this group the seeds of an economic system that serves life, rather than the other way around.”
The 2016 cohort is leading the way in advancing entrepreneurship and opportunity in low-income, under-resourced communities and communities of color, driving cooperative development and worker ownership, leveraging policy and public dollars to shift economic development models toward supporting local businesses, and bringing conversations about well-being, equity, and health to board rooms, funding models, and networks of small businesses. They are transitioning post-coal Appalachia, re-imagining Rust Belt & Legacy Cities, reshaping rural economies, and more from Chattanooga to Los Angeles, Pittsburgh to Winnipeg. Many of these focus areas and geographic regions are new to the BALLE Fellowship, and all are emerging as important trends in this movement toward an economy that works for all people.
“What an honour to be joining fellows that are so profoundly committed to building an authentic, place-based economic revolution for the people and planet!” says Tonya. “Just think of the impact we can have collectively.”