Read ILSR's comments to the Federal Trade Commission about concentration. Plus, our guide on how to talk about the benefits of small business. 
The Hometown Advantage Bulletin
Our New Fact Sheet on 5 Reasons to Care about Independent, Locally Owned Businesses
Marie Donahue  |  July 23, 2018

Many of you already know that locally owned businesses play a central role in healthy communities. Now, we’re excited to release a new resource that summarizes the many benefits of these businesses, and that you can use in your conversations about why they matter.
In this two-page factsheet, we outline five important reasons to support independent businesses, from the research that links local small businesses with lower income inequality, to the way that local businesses foster community cohesion. Compared to big corporations, independent businesses generate more tax revenue, fuel job creation, and help improve environmental sustainability. While cities may be tempted to focus only on tech startups, expanding opportunities for residents to launch businesses that meet community needs in retail, services, food production, and other sectors can have even greater impact.  Continue Reading

ILSR Submits Comments as FTC Embarks on a Rare Review of Its Antitrust Policies
Zach Freed  | August 30, 2018

Image: Book coverFor the first time in more than 20 years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has initiated a series of public hearings to examine whether the agency should be doing more to check concentrated economic power. The FTC’s upcoming hearings will include discussions on mergers, the regulation of consumer data, and competition in the economy.

ILSR submitted public comments in advance of these hearings, pointing out Amazon’s dominance in the retail landscape and the link between the enforcement of our antitrust laws, the growth of inequality, and the decline of small business dynamism. Read our comments

The FTC's move marks an encouraging development amid growing concern that consolidation is choking off economic opportunity and compromising democracy. Many industries are now controlled by just two or three corporate giants — think of CVS and Walgreens, or Delta and American Airlines. There’s mounting evidence that these dominant firms are using their power to keep workers’ wages stagnant and exclude small businesses from competing.  Meanwhile, big tech firms such as Amazon and Google have emerged as all-powerful gatekeepers to online information and commerce.  Continue Reading

       In Case You Missed It 
    ILSR recently released a new resource, the Local Policy Action Toolkit, which is designed to help independent business owners and concerned citizens advocate for community power when talking to elected officials. We cover general tips on how to reach public officials; economic, environmental, and social benefits of independent businesses; and 9 specific policies to advocate for, with examples of cities that have enacted each policy. 
  • In the July-August issue of Washington Monthly, ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell reviewed the new book Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business. The book, a defense of big business and monopolization, makes misleading arguments using cherry-picked data, says Stacy. Stacy mounts a vigorous counter-argument, explaining how the U.S. economy has stacked the deck in favor of bigness, and how small firms benefit our economy in ways big businesses can’t. 
  • In a new episode of our Building Local Power podcast, Stacy Mitchell talks with former Congressional candidate Austin Frerick. Austin was an economist at the Treasury Department during the Obama Administration, where he started noticing how many industries were falling victim to market concentration. After Trump took office, Austin decided to run for Congress in rural southeast Iowa on a distinctly anti-monopoly platform. Stacy and Austin talk about how corporate power is tearing at the social and political fabric of the country, and what can be done about it.

    News Stories We’re Following
  • Central bankers from around the world gathered to discuss the possibility that big corporations like Amazon could have more power to reshape the economy than governments do.
  • A damning new study from Johns Hopkins University finds that small business lending in Baltimore plummeted from 2010-2016, even as deposits to banks from the city nearly doubled. The study links the drop to bank consolidation that has left Baltimore a “branch town.”
  • As Sen. Bernie Sanders criticizes Amazon for the wages and working conditions in its warehouses, ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell adds information about Amazon's low-road labor model. 
  • Meanwhile, Amazon gets caught paying its workers to say nice things about it on Twitter.  
  • A locally owned brick-and-mortar hardware store undercuts Amazon’s prices by a wide margin, proving that bigger doesn’t always mean better.
  • A small handful of corporations like Monsanto control the U.S. agriculture system. Sen. Cory Booker introduced a bill to help halt this trend toward consolidation.
  • Amazon’s web services division (AWS) is striking deals with public officials to subsidize the cost of electricity for its data centers, and sticking citizens with the bill. Meanwhile, it’s increasingly hard to use the internet without AWS. 
  • A new, independently-owned, crowdfunded movie theater just opened in Knoxville, Tenn., a welcome development in a sea of chain cinemas.
  • A family pharmacy and community cornerstone in Lincoln, Ill., is shuttering after three decades in business, citing pharmacy middlemen pinching its profit margins.
  • New market research shows independent groceries making a comeback, reflecting a demand for organic and fresh fare. 
  • In Indiana, big-box stores like Lowe's are continuing to fight their property tax assessments, with potentially devastating results for the tax bases where they're located.

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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