More About Me
Years a localist, advocating for local businesses
Local business owners, coached & supported
Most tomato plants grown at one time
I believe that the pursuit of owning a local business is the pursuit of happiness.
I believe that locally owned businesses run by people who care about our community are the foundation of a healthy local economy, not by creating commerce over people but by creating commerce with people.
I believe that local business is more than the exchange of money for goods and services. It is the action of needs being fulfilled, of human to human interaction. The “hello, how are you doing?” from a clerk, the smile from a waiter or a warm greeting from your favorite barista give us connectivity and a sense of place. Yes, I do need a cup of coffee. But I also need your smile, the chatter of other customers, the scent of warm pastries.
I believe that connectivity means more than 100 people in a room exchanging business cards. That’s an exchange of information. True connectivity comes from shared experiences, shared struggles, shared hopes and dreams. Local business owners share a connectivity because of who they are—they all had the ambition and courage to pursue a talent, a passion, a dream.
I believe in sharing while competing. Competition makes us all better at what we do. It compels us to push harder and strive longer. But competition should not seek the destruction of others. We all benefit from a healthy local business ecosystem and helping each other is part of that.
I have more than 35 years experience as a business owner and local leader. I was a founding member of the groundbreaking nonprofit, Austin Independent Business Alliance (AIBA), serving as vice president from 2002-2009 and Executive Director from 2010-2020. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and work with many national organizations focused on local business and local economies. Much of my current work involves local and national policies directed to creating thriving local economies including the American Sustainable Business Council‘s (ASBC) “Recommendations for State and Local Governments” Task Force, The Athena For All Project and others.
As an advocate for local business, I have served on Austin’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force, the Travis County Economic Development Subcommittee and others.
Under my leadership AIBA has grown to be a national leader in the Buy Local Movement, paving the way on advocacy, engagement, events and marketing for local business and building a local business community. AIBA created and hosted the Local Business Conference, The Power of Local Conference and the Local Resource Academy in Austin, Texas.
AIBA created and hosted the Armadillo Awards for Indie Biz and is the founder of IBIZ Districts, which an International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Award in 2011 for neighborhood redevelopment for the City of Austin. AIBA won the Liveable City 2010 Vision Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Area of Economy.
Recent Podcast Appearances
- AUDIO: Speaking About Advocacy’s Impact On Small Business
- AUDIO: Talking with Julie Niehoff about Local Business & Leadership
- VIDEO: Talking with Alignable’s Eric Groves about Local Biz Strengths (below)
- VIDEO: Speaking to the Austin City Council on Tourism and Local Business
- VIDEO: Speaking about the IBIZ District Program
As Co-Founder and President of the Board of Directors, I am thrilled to present the Local Business Institute.The Institute is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas that is dedicated to the creation and support of thriving, sustainable local business communities through education, research, and community-building programs. Our first project is the Local Economic Policy Program. Follow our progress and programs.
More of the story…
I was in publishing for 28 years which began my deep connection to both local business and the community. Before creating my own companies, I worked in a full range of publications including dailies, weeklies, bi-weeklies and monthlies.
Along with my partner, award winning journalist Ken Martin, I have co-owned four publications. I was co-founder and publisher of the monthly magazine The Good Life for more than eleven years. We also launched the weekly newsletter In Fact, covering Austin politics and government, building it into a daily news site. In Fact was sold in 2000 to concentrate on The Good Life.
I have also served as publisher of the Austin Business Journal, associate publisher of The Texas Observer, and manager of several others. I’ve won regional and national awards for publication design, graphic design and marketing.
But what really taught me perserverance and drive was living on an isolated 40-acre farm without running water through my 20s.
Rebecca is a champion for local businesses and entrepreneurs. She is a tireless and passionate advocate and a woman you just want to have in your corner—whether to offer a warm hug and smile or just get the job done.
Thank You so much for being an inspiration to all of us for your dedication and advocacy for Austin businesses. Your professional knowledge, tenacity, and practical approaches to working with “those in charge” benefitted so many businesses and owners.
I have witnessed Rebecca’s willingness to not only support small business but her fierce opposition to any governmental policies that would do harm or not be in favor of small businesses. And I respect her for that. Bottom line for me is that Rebecca is a great leader.