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FEATURES

Check Out Our Resources on How Policymakers and Communities Can Help Small Businesses During This Crisis

STACY MITCHELL  |   MARCH 20, 2020

The tragic impacts of the Coronavirus are reverberating throughout the economy, and hurting small businesses and their millions of employees in particular. We are moving quickly to push for meaningful federal, state, and local policies. We are also moving quickly to share information and resources for small businesses and their advocates on the ground. Check the Independent Business section of our website later today and next week for more. 

To turn these ideas into action, please call your members of Congress and don't forget to support your local businesses!

FEATURES

Amazon is Becoming a Bank

SUSAN R. HOLMBERG  |   MARCH 20, 2020


In an op-ed for the American Prospect, ILSR Legal Fellow Shaoul Sussman explains that it is almost impossible for small businesses selling on Amazon’s platform to borrow from private banks, forcing entrepreneurs to borrow from Amazon itself.

According to Sussman, "Amazon’s lending business makes sellers more reliant on Amazon, by ensuring that they spend money on enhancing their product offerings on the platform, and not on bolstering their independence as a small business. This indirectly moves more money into Amazon’s pocket, since the company earns a substantial cut from every third-party sale on the marketplace."

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO

  • We welcomed Kennedy Smith to our team. Kennedy is one of the nation's foremost experts on independent business development and commercial district revitalization. She brings her considerable expertise and experience to the position of Senior Researcher.
  • ILSR's Co-Director Stacy Mitchell spoke on a roundtable about competition in digital markets — hosted by Rhode Island Congressman David N. Cicilline.
  • In response to the Federal Trade Commission's announcement that it would examine acquisitions by large technology companies, our team released a statement arguing that lax merger enforcement at the FTC is a primary driver of Amazon's market power. "While we're glad the FTC is finally acknowledging that there's a problem, we need more than a study. We also need a significant course correction."
  • Stacy spoke with Food and Dine about the power of tech corporations over workers and small business owners, including restaurant owners. "You have GrubHub coming in and inserting itself between a restaurant and a customer in a way that, obviously, isn’t chosen by the restaurant and isn’t to the restaurant’s benefit."
  • Stacy was also quoted by Common Dreams about Amazon's climate philanthropy and the power that affords Jeff Bezos. "It's the power to decide who matters, how problems are defined, what 'solutions' count, and so on [...] This is another way for Bezos to wield still more power over our society."
  • Our work on community banks, Dollar Stores, Amazon, and local economic development continues to be cited by several news outlets and organizations, including the Wired, Peoria Public Radio, Times Herald-Record, and Next City.

ICYMI

Have you seen the powerful new Frontline documentary Amazon: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos? The producers draw heavily from ILSR’s research and interviews with co-director Stacy Mitchell, who explains that "[Amazon's] strategy is to lose money, which enables [them] to put other companies out of business who can't afford to lose money."

 

NEWS STORIES WE'RE FOLLOWING

  • Merchants whose products are surging amidst the Coronavirus are getting a taste of how Amazon arbitrarily punishes small businesses.
  • As workers in Amazon warehouses begin to test positive for Coronavirus, the company is facing pressure to close select facilities and slow the pace of deliveries to protect workers.

  • The Atlantic profiles the crisis that America's restaurants are undergoing, and the fiscal stimulus required to bolster them. "Their crisis will be the entire economy's crisis."

  • The Financial Times describes how different Seattle small businesses are working to survive the crisis.

  • Prior to our health crisis, members of Congress, including Senator Amy Klobuchar and the Senate Judiciary Committee, were pushing for more antitrust enforcement, especially for Big Tech.

  • In other news, some independent pharmacies are banding together to start their own Medicare-D plan, bypassing the middleman power of pharmacy benefit managers.

  • And one independent pharmacist garnered a profile in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune for providing patients with quality care, which the chains, with their production quotas and minimal staffing, are failing to give.

  • New research demonstrates that many economic development "incentives," despite the promises, actually diminish middle-class jobs.

  • Emily Stewart at VOX explains America's monopoly problem using her own internet bill. "I didn’t really have other service options available in my area. So, no, my bill would not be reduced."

  • Meanwhile, an innovative local grocery store in Kauai is elevating the products of surrounding local businesses and offering a cherished community meeting spot for its customers.


From informing policymakers to shaping media coverage, ILSR's research is
making an impact. Please help us work to create an economy that's more
competitive, equitable, and prosperous by making a donation today.

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