In our new policy guide, we offer a platform with five planks. Plus, our recent interviews on Amazon will get you caught up on the company's growing power and its impacts.
The Hometown Advantage Bulletin
Come Work With Us! Our Independent Business Initiative Is Hiring

We're hiring! You may have seen that we included job openings across ILSR in our last newsletter. Now, we're excited to announce a job opening specifically for our Independent Business program.
This is a terrific opportunity for someone passionate about building just, sustainable, and local economies, and we'd love your help spreading the word about the opening.
  • Researcher & Writer, Community-Scaled Economy Initiative (Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minn.; or Washington, D.C.): The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is looking for a Research Associate to join our excellent non-profit team. The position is responsible for research, reporting, writing, and other tasks as part of ILSR’s Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which challenges concentrated corporate power and advocates for policies to rebuild the economic power and capacity of local communities. This position can be based in any of our three offices, but we’d love to have it be in our Portland, Maine, office. We are a dynamic and friendly team dedicated to making the world a better place, and we welcome applications from a broad range of applicants.
Read the Full Job Post
Our Guide to Policy Tools that Strengthen Independent Businesses
Stacy Mitchell and Olivia LaVecchia  |  June 6, 2018

Image: A neighborhood cafe.Policy matters. Over the last 40 years, however, we’ve made a series of policy decisions that have promoted economic concentration, at the expense of fair competition, independent businesses, and communities. As a result of these decisions, the number of independent businesses has plummeted, income inequality has grown sharply, and whole regions of the country have been left behind. They’ve also resulted in a loss of local power and capacity, as communities are increasingly controlled by outside forces, from Wall Street banks, to agribusiness monopolies, to powerful platforms like Amazon.

Now, there’s an urgent need to overhaul the policies that have fueled concentration, and advance an agenda to restore vitality to places left behind by rebuilding the economic power and capacity of local communities. Along with important steps for the federal government to take, cities and states have a great deal of authority to limit corporate power and grow local businesses.
In our new policy guide, we offer a platform with five planks. To make the U.S. more equitable, dynamic, and locally rooted, we need to:
  1. Focus on the built environment,
  2. Reorganize economic development programs,
  3. Enable businesses to access the capital they need to start and grow
  4. Make the tax code more equitable, and
  5. Promote fair and open competition.
Within each of these five categories, our guide offers specific policies to pass at the local, state, and federal levels to achieve these goals. It also features examples — with the exact text of the policy — of places that have done just that.   Continue Reading
Set-Asides and Adaptive Reuse: Dive Deep on These Two Policies
Marie Donahue and Olivia LaVecchia  |  May 25, 2018

Image: Independent bookstore.Along with our new policy guide, we've also been adding and updating resources that dive deep on specific policies. We want to highlight two of these resource pages in particular, both of which focus on how cities and towns can create a built environment that supports local businesses.

The first page is on set-asides in new development. In it, we examine how set-asides, which require developers to create commercial spaces that meet certain conditions, offer cities a tool to ensure that smaller businesses aren't excluded from new development.

The second page is on adaptive reuse. Here, we look at how cities can create programs that help local entrepreneurs restore and adapt space in historic buildings — and at the same time, make whole neighborhoods more dynamic and better connected.

Read About Set-Asides | Read About Adaptive Reuse

In Case You Missed It

Image: Stacy Mitchell on "The Majority Report."ILSR's Stacy Mitchell has recently been a guest on three popular podcasts to talk about Amazon, and the episodes offer a short, compelling way to get caught up on the company's growing power and its impacts.
  • In an episode of "The Majority Report," Stacy and host Sam Seder dig into Amazon with a 60-minute conversation on Amazon’s role as an infrastructure company, the dramatic shift that occurred in U.S. antitrust policy in the 1970s, and six proposals to rein in today’s monopolies.  Listen to the Episode
  • In an episode of the show "This Is Hell," Stacy joins host Chuck Mertz for a 35-minute discussion of Amazon's impact on competition and the danger of platform power.  Listen to the Episode
  • In an episode of "Bad with Money," Stacy talks with host Gaby Dunn about Amazon and monopoly power, along with guests Lina Khan, Jessica Bruder, and Nicole Aschoff.  Listen to the Episode
If you're a podcast listener, be sure to also check out ILSR's "Building Local Power" podcast. Recent episodes feature Stacy talking with Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice about labor rights and the gig economy, with Laura Flanders about monopolies in media, and more.

News Stories We’re Following
  • Thanks to a new rule, local governments are finally required to disclose how much money they give away to big business in the form of subsidies. The new data is already yielding important insights — including, as Governing reports, that "local governments most heavily reliant on tax incentives tend to be those with greater levels of economic inequality."
  • As cities and states offer Amazon subsidy deals for its second headquarters that are valued at billions of dollars, activists are pushing more cities to disclose their bids. Meanwhile, a showdown between Amazon and Seattle should be a warning sign for the cities vying to host the company's new headquarters.
  • A Virginia paper urges its community to rethink economic development. Instead of spending "millions of dollars" to lure big-box stores, the paper writes in an editorial, "it's time to focus on... independent businesses, owned and operated by local residents" that are "already here."
  • At independent bookstores, CBS This Morning reports, "buying a book becomes an act of community-building as opposed to just a consumer purchase."
  • "We should not underestimate the importance of our immediate commercial environment to the forging of a sense of community," says an op-ed in the Washington Post. "Ask yourself, do you know the owners of the stores where you shop? Would you mourn their absence?"
  • When Consumer Reports called more than 150 pharmacies in six metro regions, it found that the cost of five commonly-prescribed medications was dramatically lower at independent pharmacies: $107 at the independents, compared with $752 at Walgreens and $928 at CVS. So how do chain drugstores get away with higher prices? Part of the answer is how they use their size to influence drug reimbursements.
  • As Walmart strikes a deal to buy the Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, a group of 70 million small traders in India is challenging the acquisition on antitrust grounds, citing the fear that it will create "unfair competition."
  • Like in its retail arm, Amazon's web services division both sells services to other companies and competes against them. That dual role gives the company an advantage in launching new businesses — and raises concerns for smaller companies and fair competition.
  • On the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust case against Microsoft, its lessons include "that keeping markets open can require a trustbuster’s courage to take decisive action against even a very popular monopolist."
  • Monopoly power is "the real villian behind our new Gilded Age," write scholars from the University of Chicago and Yale. "To revive economic growth and restore equality, we need to update the solutions first developed a century ago."

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