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Photo: Testimony at CPC Hearing
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 16, 2015

Testimony to Congress: Overhaul Federal Policy to Support Strong Local Economies

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/testimony-congress-overhaul-federal-policy/

This week, I had the opportunity to share ILSR’s research with members of Congress at a hearing organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The forum, chaired by Representatives Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva, focused on how federal contracting and other forms of financial support for business should be overhauled to reflect American values and build the kind of economy we need.  The hearing featured perspectives from both low-wage workers and independent businesses.

As I noted in my testimony, much of federal policy now works to bend the marketplace in favor of big corporations, putting both workers and small businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Federal subsidies,  tax credits, loan guarantees, and other public benefits skew heavily in favor of large, low-wage corporations over responsible small businesses.

I highlighted one opportunity in particular for reform: loan guarantees provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  Over the last ten years, the SBA has backed loans to over 30,000 retail and fast food franchises, like Quiznos and Subway.  Not only do these outlets often pay rock-bottom wages, but the local entrepreneurs who ostensibly own these businesses generally have very little control over them and forfeit much of the revenue to the franchise parent company.   Worse, more than one in four of these businesses failed, leaving both the local owner and the SBA on the hook, while the franchise parent company made off with sizable profits and no liability for the default.

The eligibility criteria for SBA loan guarantees, ILSR believes, should be revised to eliminate support for low-wage franchises and instead expand lending for independent businesses that contribute to the well-being of their communities.

Testimony of Stacy Mitchell
Co-Director, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Ad Hoc Hearing of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
April 15, 2015

Good afternoon, Congressman Grijalva, Congressman Ellison, and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today. Continue reading

Photo: A Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Walter Wuthmann | No Comments | Updated on Mar 23, 2015

Walmart Is Quietly Going on a Massive Building Spree

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/walmart-quietly-massive-building-spree/

Having used its supercenters to capture one-quarter of U.S. grocery sales, Walmart is building a new wave of smaller stores that are poised to clean up the market share its supercenters don’t already control. Continue reading

Photo: Open Streets in northeast Minneapolis.
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Feb 23, 2015

The Do-It-Yourselves Downtown

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/do-it-yourselves-downtown-investment-cooperative-model/

In the vacuum left by both traditional economic development and Wall Street’s approach to finance, community real estate investment cooperatives offer a glimpse of a better way to channel capital, with benefits that include new jobs in the neighborhood, strong incentives for people to shop locally, local sources for key goods, closer ties with neighbors, and a return on investment. Continue reading

SCOTUS
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Mar 4, 2015

At U.S. Supreme Court, an Invitation to Reconsider Internet Sales Tax Ruling

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/us-supreme-court-invitation-reconsider-internet-sales-tax-ruling/

After years of fighting for a federal fix for the online sales tax loophole, this week, advocates for e-fairness gained a new ally: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Continue reading

Photo: San Francisco.
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 5, 2015

The Labor and Small Business Alliance Behind San Francisco’s Landmark Retail Workers Bill of Rights

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/labor-small-business-alliance-san-franciscos-landmark-retail-workers-bill-rights/

The political interests of labor and small business are often seen as pitted against each other — a perception corporate lobbyists work hard to perpetuate. But the two groups actually share broad common cause these days. Both stand to gain from building a more humane economy in which ruthless efficiency does not trump all else. Continue reading