Back to top Jump to featured resources

Featured Articles

2016 Independent Business Survey Cover
Featured Article, ILSR Press Room, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Feb 10, 2016

Independent Businesses Report Growing Sales and Hiring, but Policies Tilted in Favor Large Companies Hold Them Back

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/2016-independent-business-survey/

A large national survey has found that public support for independent businesses led to brisk sales and a sharp increase in hiring in 2015, but biased policies and other obstacles are limiting their success.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.  (Feb. 10, 2016) — Independent businesses experienced healthy sales growth in 2015, buoyed by their strong community ties and growing public awareness of the benefits of locally owned businesses, according to a large national survey released today. (Download the full report.)

The Independent Business Survey, which is conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with the Advocates for Independent Business and is now in its 9th year, gathered data from over 3,200 independent businesses. The respondents reported brisk sales in 2015, with revenue growing an average of 6.6 percent. Among independent retailers, who comprised just under half of survey respondents, revenue increased 4.7 percent in 2015, including a 3.1 percent gain during the holiday season. These figures contrast sharply with the performance of many national retail chains, and overall holiday retail sales, which rose just 1.6 percent in December according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

This growth led to a significant increase in hiring. Overall employment at the independent businesses surveyed expanded by 5.6 percent in 2015, with more than 30 percent of respondents reporting the addition of at least one employee.

Local First initiatives are part of what’s strengthening independent businesses, the survey found. Two-thirds of respondents in cities with an active Local First, or “buy local,” campaign said that the initiative is having a noticeable positive impact on their business, citing benefits such as new customers and increased loyalty among existing customers.

About one-third of businesses in Local First cities also said that the initiative had led them to become more engaged in advocating on public policy issues, and 44 percent said that the campaign had made elected officials more aware and supportive of independent businesses.

That’s significant because the survey also found that independent businesses are facing a number of challenges, many related to public policy.

One obstacle is a lack of credit for businesses seeking to grow. The survey found that one in three independent businesses that applied for a bank loan in the last two years failed to secure one. That figure was 54 percent among minority-owned businesses, and 41 percent among young firms, whose expansion has historically been a key source of net job growth. Continue reading

St Paul_MostLivable_logo
Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by ILSR | No Comments | Updated on Feb 1, 2016

Seniors, Low-Income, Disabled Communities Pay the Price in St. Paul

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/seniors-low-income-disabled-communities-pay-the-price-in-st-paul/

For seniors, low-income residents, and the disabled in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a Comcast discount within the city’s franchise agreement is not all it was cracked up to be. The Pioneer Press recently reported that, as eligible subscribers seek the ten percent discount guaranteed by the agreement, they are finding the devil is in the details… Continue reading

guy with knife and kid - flickr Ross Catrow v2
Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 28, 2016

New Fossil Fuel Power Plants: Assets or Liabilities?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/new-fossil-fuel-power-plants-assets-or-liabilities/

In any conversation about the transition to a renewable energy economy, solar and wind advocates will eventually come up against the term “stranded assets.” It’s a misleading term, usually deployed in defense of legacy fossil fuel power plants (and their owners). But as times change, “stranded assets” can be redefined and in the next few… Continue reading

CommunityPower-Logo-Main-banner
Featured Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 28, 2016

Open Letter Urges Xcel Energy to Adhere to Minnesota Clean Energy Commitments

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/open-letter-urges-xcel-energy-to-adhere-to-minnesota-clean-energy-commitments/

  Contact: Alice Madden Alice@communitypowermn.org 206-372-8471           To: Christopher Clark, President, Northern States Power Company – Minnesota January 26, 2016   Dear Mr. Clark, Community Power, a tireless advocate for clean, affordable, and equitable energy systems, is excited about Xcel Energy’s upcoming supplement to its Integrated Resource Plan illustrating alternatives to… Continue reading

Photo: Main Street.
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Jan 12, 2016

New Studies Reveal 5 Reasons Policymakers Should Prioritize Local Business in 2016

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/5-reasons-for-policymakers-to-prioritize-local-in-2016/

Recent findings from prominent economists, sociologists, and other researchers suggest that small, local businesses are critical to overcoming many of our biggest challenges, from reducing economic inequality to building resilient communities. We round up the new studies and what they tell us about why policymakers should focus on local business in 2016. Continue reading