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Bloomberg Profiles Cities that Have Restricted Chains, Citing Research by ILSR (Additional Resources Linked)

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Jan 26, 2018 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/bloomberg-restrict-chains/

On January 26th, Bloomberg business reporter Nick Leiber published a story exploring how cities are restricting chain stores in order to give local startups and independent businesses a chance. The article draws on ILSR’s research and includes an interview with co-director Stacy Mitchell, who has advised several cities on implementing these policies, which are called formula business restrictions.

Here’s a sample of the Bloomberg piece:

The mayor’s best-known effort is a zoning ordinance that prevents formula businesses—city planner jargon for chains with standardized stores such as Starbucks Corp. and Target Corp.—from occupying more than 30 percent of the ground floor of commercial areas of buildings. The city council enacted the rule in 2015 to preserve the “distinctive sense of place and unique neighborhood character” of downtown, the ordinance states. “You don’t want small business owners who’ve stuck with the city through the bad and the good to get squeezed out,” Fulop says. “There’s a real risk to the long-term health of the city when you look at where retail is going.”

At least 30 cities and towns across the country, from San Francisco to McCall, Idaho, have enacted similar rules. Some ban all chain stores from certain neighborhoods; others cap how many such businesses can move into an area; still others require approval on a case-by-case basis. Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), an advocacy nonprofit for sustainable community development, says the ordinances are “one of the most powerful tools that local governments have to shape the mix of businesses in their cities.” A 2016 ILSR report noted that “as recently as the 1980s, independent retailers supplied about half of the goods Americans bought in stores; today their share is down to about one-quarter.”

Read the full article here…

In addition to Leiber’s article, we wanted to share a series of resources that explain formula business ordinances. These include an explanation of the local policy, original research, and podcast interviews from local leaders that have implemented this policy.

  • ILSR Rule: Formula Business Restrictions — A growing number of cities and towns are enacting policies that restrict the proliferation of “formula businesses” — stores and restaurants that have standardized services, décor, methods of operation, and other features that make them virtually identical to businesses elsewhere. Read more…

  • Key Studies: Why Local Matters — In recent decades, policy across the country has privileged the biggest corporations. Yet a growing body of research is proving something that many people already know: small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, entrepreneurial, connected, and generally better off across a wide range of metrics. Here’s a roundup of the important findings that are putting numbers to the harms of bigness and the benefits of local ownership, and that policymakers can use to craft better laws, business owners can use to rally support, and people can use to organize their communities. Read more…

  • Affordable Space: How Rising Commercial Rents Are Threatening Independent Businesses, and What Cities Are Doing About It — ILSR’s 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. Read more…

  • In Jersey City, a Policy Fosters Local Independent Businesses — and Gets Pushback from CVS — In downtown Jersey City, a familiar story is playing out: Independent business owners have helped foster neighborhood growth, and now, chain stores are interested in sweeping in with their own locations. What’s different in Jersey City is that the city has taken proactive steps to check this common cycle, and instead, build a model that allows for more opportunity for local entrepreneurs. Read more…

  • How San Francisco is Dealing With Chains — No other large American city has done as much to check the spread of chain stores as San Francisco. Under a city law enacted in 2006, a “formula” retail store or restaurant cannot open in any of the city’s neighborhood commercial districts unless it undergoes a public hearing and obtains special approval from the Planning Commission. Read more…

  • San Francisco Breaks the Chain Stores, Strengthens Neighborhood Economies (Episode 31) — This episode of the Building Local Power podcast is a discussion with AnMarie Rodgers, the Senior Policy Advisor to the City of San Francisco who played a key role in implementing the a formula business restriction to support local businesses. Read more…

Photo Credit: Mattgrundy at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

This post originally published at ilsr.org. Follow the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on Twitter and Facebook and sign-up for ILSR’s newsletters.