Running approximately a mile from 45th Street to North Loop, this expanse of lower Burnet Road known as “Lo-Burn” is drawing patrons from across Austin for its mix of retail including a bakery, thrift and vintage stores and restaurants. Known as an IBIZ district, the acronym stands for Independent Business Investment Zone.
Shop Local Businesses in Austin
This branding idea is a brainchild of the Austin Independent Business Alliance (AIBA), a group of over 800 locally owned and managed independent businesses. Formed in 2002, this 501(c)(6) non-profit organization’s “mission is to promote and support locally owned businesses through advocacy, consumer education and services to (its) members.”
Local Marketing & Advertising
Lo-Burn is one of eight IBIZ districts established by the AIBA in Austin that assists local businesses through cooperative marketing. When a locality such as Lo-Burn becomes an IBIZ district, they receive organizational personnel who promote the district through AIBA and social media, advertising signage and a shared budget and strategy that utilizes more traditional means of publicizing the zone’s businesses. Currently 63 businesses avail themselves of Lo-Burn’s umbrella of services. Other IBIZ districts are North Loop, North Drag, West Lynn, East End, East Sixth, South Lamer and South First.
Buy Local Campaigns
The underlying goal of AIBA is to protect locally owned businesses from being displaced by national chains. By developing Austin residents’ “sense of place,” IBIZ districts connect people to local neighborhoods and businesses. AIBA cites “Best of” polls as proof that the favorite restaurants, shops and retail of a community are invariably unique local businesses.
Benefits of AIBA Membership
AIBA offers a variety of events to its members in order to help them build their businesses. Besides hosting breakfasts, luncheons and ‘Happy Hour’ mixers, they publish ‘IndieAustin,’ a directory of members distributed at over 250 locations around town. They are perhaps best known for establishing ‘Austin Unchained – a day designated for shopping locally which is now observed in communities throughout the country as ‘America Unchained.’
Advocacy is another important service the AIBA provides to its members. In particular, AIBA is concerned with the issue of fair collection of sales tax and the internet. Since out-of-state competitors have almost a 10% competitive advantage, AIBA strives to create a level playing field for local businesses. Thanks in part to the efforts of AIBA President Steve Bercu, in 2010 the Texas Legislature enacted a law requiring out-of-state internet retailers such as Amazon who maintain warehouses in the state to collect sales tax.