Back to top Jump to featured resources

Featured Articles

Featured Article, Report, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Apr 20, 2016

How Rising Commercial Rents Are Threatening Independent Businesses, and What Cities Are Doing About It

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/affordable-space/

placeholder

ILSR’s new report examines how high rents are shuttering businesses and stunting entrepreneurship, and explores 6 strategies that cities are using to create an affordable built environment where local businesses can thrive. 

Image: Report cover.In cities as diverse as Nashville and Milwaukee, Charleston and Portland, Maine, retail rents have shot up by double-digit percentages over the last year alone. As the cost of space rises, urban neighborhoods that have long provided the kind of dense and varied environment in which entrepreneurs thrive are becoming increasingly inhospitable to them. Local businesses that serve the everyday needs of their communities are being forced out and replaced by national chains that can negotiate better rents or afford to subsidize a high-visibility location.

This new report from ILSR offers elected officials insights on what’s causing commercial rents to skyrocket, and explores six broad policy solutions, with practical examples, that cities can use to keep commercial space appropriate, accessible, and affordable for independent businesses.

The report finds that the sharp rise in rents is happening across a range of communities, with some of the most intense pressure falling on businesses in lower income neighborhoods. And the trend isn’t limited to retailers. The price of industrial space is rising rapidly too, jeopardizing a budding renaissance in urban manufacturing.

There’s a public interest in the commercial side of the built environment, the report concludes, and smart city policy has an important role to play in creating an urban landscape in which locally owned businesses can thrive.

Read: ONE-PAGE FACTSHEET  |  Press release  |  Full Report  |  MAPPING RISING RENTS

 

Introduction

For 22 years, Lisa Monson ran her business out of a building she rented in Salt Lake City’s 15th and 15th business district. The 2,800-square-foot space was a good size for her hair salon, and she liked being in a neighborhood of locally owned businesses.

Like many business owners, though, the more Monson continued to invest in her business, the more wary she became of losing her space. Her landlord wouldn’t offer her a long-term lease, and every three years, she faced a tough renegotiation. Meanwhile, national chains had started moving into the neighborhood, including a Starbucks and an Einstein’s Bagels that bought out a local bagel shop.

“It kept me in a place where I was completely at risk of being thrown out,” Monson explains. “I knew that if he got an offer for a lot more money, I wouldn’t be able to match it.”

The cost of commercial space is spiking upward around the country, driven both by run-away real estate speculation and the growing popularity of urbanism. As a new generation discovers the appeal of walkable and mixed-use neighborhoods,[1] demand for small commercial spaces in those neighborhoods is far outpacing supply, and rents are rising to match. Locally owned enterprises, which thrive in these areas, are increasingly threatened with displacement from the neighborhoods that they’ve made vibrant, and getting replaced by national chains that can negotiate better rents or afford to subsidize a high-visibility location. As high rents shutter longtime businesses, they also create an ever-higher barrier to entry for new entrepreneurs, stunting opportunity and leading to a scarcity of start-ups in cities once known for their business dynamism.

Continue reading

building-local-power-podcast
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Sep 23, 2016

The Dark Store Tax Dodge of Big-Box Retailers – Episode 1 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/dark-store-tax-dodge-episode-1-of-building-local-power-podcast/

In the first episode of our new podcast series, “Building Local Power,” Chris Mitchell, the director of our Community Broadband Networks initiative, interviews Olivia LaVecchia, a research associate with our Community-Scaled Economy initiative, about her work on the “dark store” strategy that big-box retailers have been using to slash their property tax assessments. Continue reading

SM CommomBound
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Sep 7, 2016

Watch: Policy Tools That Enable Local Businesses to Thrive

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/watch-policy-tools-that-enable-local-businesses-to-thrive/

For too long, public policy has rigged the market to favor big corporations and undermine small, locally owned businesses, especially those launched by women and people of color. In this video of a panel session at the CommonBound conference, ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell and others discuss how, now, local businesses and activists across the country are working to change the rules to instead support community enterprises. Continue reading

Minneapolis at Night
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Karlee Weinmann | No Comments | Updated on Sep 16, 2016

At the Two-Year Mark, Key Takeaways from the Clean Energy Partnership – Episode 40 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/at-the-two-year-mark-key-takeaways-from-the-clean-energy-partnership-episode-40-of-local-energy-rules-podcast/

Minneapolis garnered national attention when it formed a first-of-its-kind partnership with local utilities to advance sustainable, efficient energy policy. Now, as communities across the U.S. increasingly push for influence over their energy futures, the Midwestern city offers a blueprint for what works and a taste of the challenges that come with cooperation. John Farrell, who… Continue reading

Democracy at Risk
Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Aug 31, 2016

November 8th: Four Key Factors for the Armchair Strategist

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/november-8th-four-key-factors-for-the-armchair-strategist/

Two months to elections and counting. Americans will be voting for the entire House, a third of the Senate and the President, as well as all members of state legislative lower houses and usually half of their state senators. It may be an historic election, an election in which many states will be operating under… Continue reading