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Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Aug 28, 2017

8 Policy Strategies Cities Can Use to Support Local Businesses

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/8-policy-strategies-cities-can-use-to-support-local-businesses/

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance produced this policy brief for Local Progress, a network of elected officials organized by the Center for Popular Democracy. We’ve reproduced the text of the brief below, and it’s also available to download [PDF] and as part of Local Progress’s library of policy briefs.

 

The Problem

Locally owned businesses play a central role in healthy communities, and are among the best engines that cities and towns have for advancing economic opportunity. Small business ownership has been a pathway to the middle class for generations of Americans, and continues to be a crucial tool for building wealth and community self-determination. This is something many people understand intuitively, and it is also borne out by research that finds that the presence of locally owned businesses is linked to higher rates of job creation, less income inequality, and stronger social networks.[1]

Despite these benefits, in many communities, small businesses are disappearing. Between 1997 and 2012, the number of independent retailers fell by about 108,000 and small manufacturers declined by 70,000.[2]  Even more alarming than the overall decline in small businesses is the fact that it appears to have become much harder to launch one: The number of new firms created each year has fallen by nearly half since the 1970s, a trend that economists say is slowing job growth.[3]

Contrary to popular perception, this decline isn’t because local businesses aren’t competitive. In many cases, it’s because public policy and concentrated market power are working against them. Misguided zoning policies, soaring real estate costs, and financing terms that incentivize landlords to rent to chains[4] are making it harder for local businesses to find suitable space. Banking consolidation and the decline of local financial institutions has left more entrepreneurs struggling to obtain the capital they need, a barrier that is especially acute for Black, Latinx, and women entrepreneurs.[5] Economic development subsidies and tax incentives further skew the playing field by disproportionately flowing to big corporations.

 

The Solution

As policymakers begin to recognize these barriers, some are taking action to ensure that their communities are places where local businesses can thrive. Here is a sampling of the strategies they are using. Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Sep 21, 2017

Electric Vehicles Use Local Power to Cut Pollution and Driving Costs – Episode 29 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/electric-vehicles-episode-29-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

Electric vehicles are enabling energy democracy.

That’s the takeaway from the latest Building Local Power podcast episode, a discussion between guest host and Communications Manager Nick Stumo-Langer, Energy Democracy initiative director John Farrell, and Energy Democracy initiative researcher Karlee Weinmann. The conversation features a number of topics, including: the trajectory electric vehicles hold in renewable energy technology, generally; the ways that cities in the wake of recent hurricanes can rebuild to better weather the storms thanks to energy resiliency; and how residents of cities, large and small, can pressure their communities to enact better policies. Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Sep 7, 2017

With Whole Foods Deal, Amazon’s Empire Grows – Episode 28 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/whole-foods-amazon-episode-28-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

The latest Building Local Power podcast episode features a discussion between ILSR initiative director Christopher Mitchell and co-director Stacy Mitchell on the Amazon-Whole Foods deal. The conversation features a number of issues, including why Amazon’s growth isn’t that innovative after all due to their market power as a crushing force for consolidation. Much of the conversation is an extension of our Amazon’s Stranglehold report, co-authored by Stacy and ILSR researcher Olivia LaVecchia. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Karlee Weinmann | No Comments | Updated on Sep 11, 2017

Get Charged Up About Drive Electric Week

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/national-drive-electric-week-2017/

Electric vehicle sales are surging, and the trend shows no signs of stopping — particularly as the battery technology that powers them enables longer trips and comes at a lower cost. The first electric cars hit the market more than 100 years ago, but this time, there’s plenty of reasons to believe they’re not only… Continue reading

Featured Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Independent Business | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Sep 7, 2017

Press Release: Amazon Angles for Subsidies in Search of Second HQ

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/press-release-amazon-subsidies-hq/

In response to Amazon’s announcement that it is seeking a location for a second North American headquarters, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and co-author of Amazon’s Stranglehold, issued the following statement:

“Amazon’s announcement that it’s opening a search for a second North American headquarters is only the latest play in Amazon’s long-time strategy of financing its growth through public subsidies. Over the last decade, as Amazon has mastered this strategy, it’s come to employ site location experts and lobbyists in its efforts to pit local and state governments against each other for the largest subsidy package…. Continue reading