Business alliance asserts its independence

06/25/08 Seán Kinane
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This morning at Hyde Park’s Mise en Place restaurant, the Tampa Downtown Partnership hosted a panel discussion focusing on the city’s independent businesses. All four panelists are members of the Tampa Independent Business Alliance (TIBA).

Carla Jimenez owns Inkwood Books and is on the board of TIBA; she is also on the national board of the American Independent Business Alliance. Jimenez said shopping at locally-owned businesses keeps money in the community. “When you spend a dollar locally, it circulates in the local economy at least three times.”

But just as important as the economic benefits of buying from local independent businesses, Jimenez said, is how unique businesses enhance the community. “It’s the locally-owned independent businesses … that actually define a community, that define the sense of place.”

Maryann Ferenc, co-owner of Mise en Place and president of TIBA, said “People are really searching for a sense of community.”

The philosophy or feel of shopping at a chain store is different from an independent business, according to Ferenc. “Chain stores success are built on creating a really great formula and then repeating that formula every day.”

Jiminez thinks Tampa could benefit from a series of Independent Business Investment Zones, which “would be great for Tampa’s downtown as well as some other neighborhoods in Tampa.”

Ellen Brown owns the Old Tampa Book Co. downtown and is concerned about vacancies in her area. “How do we get these landlords to stop holding empty buildings waiting to make a lot of money?”

This Saturday, TIBA businesses will be showcased at Nature’s Harvest Market at 1021 N. MacDill Ave. to kick off Independent’s Week, which runs July 1-7. WMNF is a member of TIBA.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Tampa Independent Business Alliance - TIBA

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