Plus, city council members introduce a proposal to regulate chain stores in Boston.
The Hometown Advantage Bulletin
With New Local Policy Action Toolkit, a Step-by-Step Guide to Advocating for Policies that Support Your Local Economy
Marie Donahue, Stacy Mitchell, and Olivia LaVecchia  |  July 17, 2018

Image: Report cover.We're excited to release our new Local Policy Action Toolkit, a trove of resources on how to talk to your public officials about why the local economy matters and how policy can support it. The Toolkit is designed specifically for independent businesses owners, but its resources also work for concerned citizens or anyone else who wants to engage with their public officials.

In the Toolkit, we cover general tips about how to contact public officials, recap the reasons that public officials should care about independent businesses, and then outline 9 specific policies that advocates can ask their city or town to adopt. Each of these 9 policies includes examples of cities that have already implemented the policy, and each policy is on its own page, so that advocates can mix-and-match the policy ideas that are best suited for their own community.  Continue Reading

In a Book Review for Washington Monthly, Stacy Mitchell on "The Truth About Big Business"
Stacy Mitchell  | July 16, 2018

Image: Book coverIn this book review for the July-August issue of Washington Monthly magazine, ILSR's Stacy Mitchell takes on the new book Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business. The book is a defense of the monopolization of the U.S. economy, Stacy writes. It's "designed to put our minds at ease" about the demise of small businesses by arguing that big business is superior.

Yet, Stacy argues, the book relies on cherry-picked data and misleading arguments. As she rebuts the authors' claims, Stacy also mounts a vigorous counter-argument, explaining how U.S. economic policy has tilted the playing field in favor of bigness, but how small businesses perform critical functions that big businesses can't. "As small businesses disappear, we’re losing these distinct market benefits," Stacy concludes, "and something much more valuable, too: a diverse economy that keeps concentrated power in check and ensures that citizens and communities have the ability to chart their own course."  Continue Reading
In Boston, City Council Members Introduce Proposal to Regulate Chain Stores
Olivia LaVecchia  | July 24, 2018

Image: Street in Boston.Regular readers of this newsletter will know that we're big fans of a policy tool called a formula business policy, which cities around the country have used to regulate chain stores and support commercial diversity. That's why we were excited when, earlier this month, three members of the Boston City Council introduced a petition to implement this tool in Boston.

Like other cities' formula business policies, Boston's proposal would make chain stores a distinct land use type, and require them to obtain a conditional use permit in order to open in areas throughout the city. "Locally owned businesses contribute to the economic and social vitality of the neighborhoods throughout the City of Boston,” the councilors' petition reads, “and the City of Boston should recognize the importance of small and locally owned businesses in its land use and planning objectives.”  Continue Reading

Take Action on Amazon in Your Own Community
  • Amazon is moving to capture local government spending, but the silver lining for concerned citizens is that this offers a way to take action at the local level. Check out our fact sheet, where we recap how Amazon's growing relationship with the public sector undermines competition, and puts cities, counties, and school districts at risk of paying higher prices. The fact sheet then covers 3 strategies that anyone can use to take action.  Read the Fact Sheet
  • Prefer audio? In the latest episode of our Building Local Power podcast, ILSR's Stacy Mitchell, Olivia LaVecchia, and Nick Stumo-Langer have a revealing conversation about Amazon and local governments. The group's discussion covers the contract that opens the way for billions of dollars in local government spending to shift to Amazon, and digs into other findings from our recent report on this issue, like how Amazon is positioning itself as the gatekeeper through which local businesses have to go to sell to local governments.  Listen to the Podcast

News Stories We’re Following
  • At Whole Foods, Amazon is requiring food companies both large and small to pick up the tab for its new discounts.
  • Independent breweries offer a good example of the benefits of local ownership, writes the newspaper in Tulsa, Okla., from their use of high-quality ingredients to their investment in their neighborhoods.
  • New commissioners at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are discussing increasing scrutiny of big technology companies like Amazon, including through a series of hearings this fall.

From informing policymakers to shaping media coverage, our 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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