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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 of 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

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

Amazon_warehouse
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 22, 2015

5 Things Local Officials Need to Know About Amazon

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/5-things-local-officials-need-to-know-about-amazon/

Amazon is on a building spree, and many local officials are eager to bring one of its giant fulfillment centers to their own backyard. They are so eager, in fact, that some have resorted to offering the company lavish tax breaks and other public assistance. Between 2012 and 2014, Amazon picked up $431 million in local tax incentives to finance its warehouse expansion. Yet, as our analysis shows, Amazon fulfillment centers impose so many hidden costs on local economies that cities ought to reconsider welcoming them at all, much less greasing the way with public funds. Continue reading

Photo: Two beer glasses.
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 23, 2015

With New Wave of Mega-Mergers, the Big Aim to Get Bigger

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/new-wave-of-mega-mergers-means-the-big-get-bigger/

A recent agreement between two beer conglomerates will turn them into a single company with control over nearly 30 percent of the global beer market and 70 percent of the U.S. market — and it’s just one deal in a recent spate of mega-mergers that’s set to make 2015 a record year for mergers and acquisitions. While much of this concentration is invisible to most of us, its effects ripple throughout all areas of the economy. Continue reading

Photo: Ribbon cutting at a Walmart expansion.
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Oct 21, 2015

States Shower Big Companies with Economic Development Incentives, at Small Businesses’ Expense

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/states-shower-big-companies-with-economic-development-incentives-at-small-businesses-expense/

Even when state economic development programs purport to be open to businesses of any size, in practice, they overwhelmingly favor large companies, according to a study released Tuesday. The study determined that 90 percent of a $3.2 billion pot of economic development incentives was awarded to large firms, a finding that casts light on one of the ways that small businesses are placed at a competitive disadvantage. Continue reading