Category Archives: Local Economy

Buy Local: Shop, Eat & Drink

42-15529187This holiday season keep your hard-earned dollars in the community and working for you by spending locally.

You can have an impact. Shifting even a small amount of your spending from chains to locally owned businesses can have a major impact on the local economy. According to a new study, in Western Michigan, if the 600,000 residents of Grand Rapids and surrounding Kent County were to redirect just 10 percent of their total spending from chains to local businesses, it would create nearly $140 million in new economic activity for the region and 1,600 new jobs.

Add that to a recent report on how Wal-Mart and other big box retailers legally skim sales tax and you have to wonder how priorities became so skewed. In Maryland alone, we’ve lost $31,000,000 in potential sales tax revenue.

Our new and redeveloping districts need you this season. Please support the locally owned businesses of Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, EYA, University Town Center and in College Park. Think of these businesses for gift certificates, catering, office or class gift exchanges and more. Many are new businesses–let them know what you are looking for, ask if they order, speak up if you’d like to see a menu item added.

Buying locally creates community: support our local economy to build a sustainable future for the Route 1 Corridor.

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Filed under Community, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

From Our Inbox: East Campus & College Towns

charvilletrees.jpg

East Campus Steering Committee meetings have had a number of careful observers. Many agree that three divergent tracks–the university’s goals, the community’s concerns and the developer’s interest in the bottom line–have not coalesced. This may be attributable to a backwards process. The Steering Committee’s work has been akin to a rushed, project-specific visioning process, something that clearly should have preceded the RFP and selection of a developer. Progress has been made with the campus on sustainability issues. Unfortunately, they are simply joining the parade, rather than leading it. But the project’s character will make or break it. One of our readers addresses this below.

The Foulger-Pratt/Argo team doesn’t seem to understand how college towns work, but after listening to the presentations I think it might go beyond the question of what kinds of stores people like to frequent.

My impression is that the team consists of generally well-informed and well-intentioned regional suburban developers. They are very conscious of market trends, Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Design, Developers, East Campus, Local Economy, Public Input

Give a Gift To Our Economy: Shop Locally Owned This Holiday Season

by Stacy Mitchell

Our successful event with Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the New Rules Project, a couple weeks ago did not yield viable audio, but we can offer the slide show (you will need to hit pause between slides) and the article below which makes many of the points discussed. And to help you shop locally, check out Buy Indie.

Whether to patronize a chain or a locally owned business is not top of mind for many holiday shoppers, but it should be. It’s a choice that has profound implications for our economy.

If you shop at an independent toy store, such as Be Beep in Annapolis, Maryland, you will likely see products made by Beka, a small toy manufacturer in St. Paul, Minnesota.

A family-owned business, Beka has opted not to sell to chains like Target and Wal-Mart. Doing so, explains co-owner Jamie Kreisman, would require moving production to low-wage factories overseas, which would eliminate what he and his brothers most love about the business: their relationships with their employees and working hands-on with their products.

Beka is healthy, but its future depends entirely on the survival of independent toy stores. Over the last decade, Wal-Mart and Target have aggressively overtaken this sector and now capture 45 percent of U.S. toy sales. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Growth, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

Reminder: Stacy Mitchell on Connecting Retail & Growth to Community

State Street, Madison WIWednesday, November 28
7 pm Refreshments
7:30 pm Talk & Discussion
Hyattsville City Hall

4310 Gallatin St., Hyattsville MD 301-985-5000
Remember, we invited you? Join us.
As growth in the Route 1 corridor accelerates, what can we learn from other communities? How can we avoid becoming Anyplace USA? Can we use retail as a catalyst for good community development? How can local governments avoid retail sprawl and build a vibrant local business economy? From innovative small-business initiatives to cutting-edge land-use policies, Mitchell offers communities concrete strategies that can create a more prosperous and sustainable future. More on our Events page.

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Filed under Community, Events, Growth, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

You’re Invited: Connecting Retail & Growth to Community

j0430638.jpgwith Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project
Wednesday, November 28
7 pm Refreshments , 7:30 pm Talk & Discussion
Hyattsville City Hall, 4310 Gallatin St., 301-985-5000

Given the fast pace of new projects in the Route 1 corridor, we th0ught it might be time for us to step back, draw a breath and look at how retail can be used creatively to build strong communities. Retail is a key component of the many redevelopment projects underway. What are the best practices? How have other regions handled rapid growth or redevelopment? Please join us for a conversation about the Route 1 area’s retail future. (This is a great follow-up to the 11/15 event on comprehensive planning.)

Stacy Mitchell is a passionate advocate for communities and their local economies. Our regular readers may be familiar with Stacy Mitchell’s books and probably have noticed we have republished articles from her newsletter, The Hometown Advantage. Mitchell works with small business groups, elected officials and community organizations and local governments to strengthen locally owned businesses. She advises on new land use and economic development policies. Mitchell is a senior researcher with the New Rules Project, a program of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She chairs the American Independent Business Alliance and is the author of Big-Box Swindle and Hometown Advantage.
Download flier to email. Download flier to copy.
Presented by Route 1 Growth, Route 1 area communities and community development corporations from Eastern Ave. to the Beltway. Refreshments courtesy of County Council Members Will Campos & Eric Olson.

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Ann Arbor Lessons

As we contemplate the changes that East Campus will bring to College Park, it is worth learning from other college towns. Insights into a Lively Downtown may provide both ideas for remaking the existing downtown and the correct scale for East Campus. This runs 20 minutes and sometimes states the obvious…on the way to explaining why downtowns tick.

Thanks to Kirk Westphal, University of Michigan urban planning 2006 graduate, for posting this. Westphal’s description–
What makes a downtown district appealing? Why do people go out of their way to walk down one side of the street and not the other? Using the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan as a case study, this exploration of successful downtown streets weaves together pedestrian interviews with footage of streetscapes and sidewalk behavior to show what healthy blocks have in common.

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Filed under Community, Design, Downtown, Local Economy, Planning, Retail

East Campus: Our Local Economy & Independent Merchants

The East Campus Steering Committee will meet Thursday to discuss uses (residential, retail, hotel & office) and market feasibility. Agendas and materials for this and past meetings are also available, just click on the topic. You may find the market study, though somewhat flawed, and lessons learned from Silver Spring worth browsing. The preliminary plan indicates lots of chains and that’s worth careful examination in terms of character and contributions to our community. This pertinent article is reprinted with kind permission from The Hometown Advantage Bulletin, a free email newsletter published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. To read back issues or join the mailing list, visit here.

While many parts of the country are overrun with chain stores, San Francisco remains a stronghold for locally owned businesses, according to a new study, which also found that those local stores generate sizable benefits for the city’s economy.

The San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association (SFLOMA), one of the sponsors of the study, hopes it will spur residents to choose locally owned businesses more often and encourage cities in the region to re-examine policies that favor chains.

So far, “the response to the study and its publicity has been very encouraging,” said Rick Karp, owner of Cole Hardware and a co-founder of SFLOMA. In an editorial about the study, the San Francisco Chronicle concluded, “The message is clear: It’s time to shop local.”

The study, titled “The San Francisco Retail Diversity Study,” was conducted by Civic Economics, the firm that produced two ground-breaking and frequently cited studies—one in Austin and another in Chicago—that measured the economic impact of locally owned businesses versus chain stores.

The San Francisco analysis builds on this earlier research. It examines retail spending in a region that includes the city of San Francisco and three adjacent suburbs: Daly City, Colma, and South San Francisco.

It begins by calculating the market share of independents and chains in several categories: bookstores, sporting goods stores, toy stores, and casual dining restaurants.

In all four categories, the study found that independents capture a much larger share of consumer spending in the region than they do nationwide. Locally owned bookstores in the San Francisco area, for example, capture about 55 percent of book sales. Internet retailers account for 19 percent of the market and chain bookstores, including Borders and Barnes & Noble, have about 15 percent. Nationally, independent bookstores account for just 10 percent of book sales.

Independent sporting goods stores in the San Francisco area likewise capture 56 percent of sales in that category, while independent restaurants have almost two-thirds of the casual dining market. Locally owned toy stores account for 44 percent of toy sales, while specialty toy chains, general merchants like Target, and internet retailers capture the rest.

In all four categories, the study found that independent retailers were much stronger in the city itself than in the three adjacent suburbs. Local bookstores accounted for less than 12 percent of book sales in the suburbs. Independent toy stores fared even worse with just 3 percent of the suburban market.

The second part of the study analyzes the impact on the city’s economy of shopping at locally owned businesses versus chains. It finds that $1 million spent at independent bookstores creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the region, including $119,000 in wages and salaries paid to local employees. That same $1 million spent at chain bookstores generates only $188,000 in local economic activity, including $71,000 in local wages and salaries.

Independent toy stores, sporting goods stores, and restaurants likewise create substantially more local economic activity for every $1 million in sales than their chain counterparts, according to the study.

Much of the difference in economic impact is due to two factors. One is that the chains have some of their management, marketing, and other functions carried out at corporate headquarters and therefore employ fewer people locally per unit of sales. In the toy category, for example, for every $1 million in sales, independent stores create 2.22 local jobs, while chains create just 1.31.

The other factor is that the local retailers spend more of their revenue buying goods and services at local businesses such as print shops, accounting firms, web design companies, banks, and so forth. Chains have little need for these local goods and services; many of the dollars that flow into their outlets instead leave the region.

The final part of the study looks at the effect on the city’s economy if residents were to shift the balance of their spending between chains and local businesses by just 10 percent. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Developers, East Campus, Local Economy, Public Input, Retail, Traffic