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Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 1, 2014

Two Big-Box Decisions Show How Smart Planning Policies Protect Good Jobs

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/smart-planning-policies-protect-good-jobs-cities-vote-big-boxes/

Although few cities take full advantage of them, planning and zoning powers are among the most potent tools communities have for shaping their economies. Two recent decisions, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, underscore why land use planning matters and how smart policies can strengthen the local economy and protect good jobs.

The first was a decision by the Cape Cod Commission to deny Lowe’s a permit to build a store in the town of Dennis. As I wrote in a piece last year (“Here’s One Smart Way to Handle Big-Box Stores“), Cape Cod is one of the few places in the country that embeds economic criteria in its planning policies and requires that large projects (commercial development over 10,000 square feet) win approval from both the host town and a regional planning body, the Cape Cod Commission, which is made up of representatives from each of the Cape’s 15 towns.

Guided by Cape Cod’s Regional Planning Policy, the commission does not limit its review to conventional zoning issues, such as the number of parking spaces or the distance the building is set back from the street. Instead it focuses on how the development would affect Cape Cod’s economy and environment.

After looking closely at the Lowe’s proposal, the Cape Cod Commission concluded that “the probable benefit of the proposed development is not greater than the probable detriment.”

A pivotal issue was the store’s projected impact on jobs and wages. One of the region’s primary planning goals is to increase household income. Lowe’s would have the opposite effect, the commission concluded. In a region already saturated with building supply stores, Lowe’s arrival would cause many existing local businesses to downsize or close. The result would be a net decline of 48 jobs after Lowe’s opened.

Moreover, the new jobs at Lowe’s would pay $9,000 less on average than the jobs lost at local stores, resulting in a total income loss of over $3 million for the region’s residents.

Armed with this kind of analysis, the Cape Cod Commission has approved relatively few big-box stores in its 24-year history. Walmart has only one store in the region. It’s less than half the size of a typical supercenter and located in a building that used to house another department store. Not surprisingly, Cape Cod has significantly more independent businesses per capita than the national average.

Another example of the value of smart planning policy was last month’s unanimous decision by the Green Bay (Wisconsin) City Council to deny Walmart’s petition to build a 154,000-square-foot store in a historic industrial area adjacent to the downtown.

Green Bay has been looking to redevelop this area. In a similar situation, many cities might leap on a 15-acre Walmart store on the theory than anything is better than nothing. But Walmart’s suburban-style store did not fit the vision that residents and city officials had developed through a series of planning exercises. Continue reading

Photo: San Francisco Starbucks
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 5, 2014

Faulty Study Ignores Small Business Benefits

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/bogus-chain-store-study-ignores-small-business-benefits/

Last month, San Francisco’s Office of Economic Analysis issued a new study concluding that the city’s policy restricting the spread of chain stores is harming the local economy. But the OEA’s sweeping conclusion rests on bad data and a deeply flawed analysis that misses many of the benefits of independent business. In this article for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, we detail exactly how the study gets it wrong. Continue reading

Image: 2014 Independent Business Survey Cover
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 6, 2014

Independent Business Owners Report Growing Public Support, Call for Policies to Level the Playing Field

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/2014-survey/

A survey of 2,602 independent business owners across the U.S. has found that the Buy Local message is boosting customer traffic and improving the outlook on Main Street. But entrepreneurs also say policymakers need to do more to create a level playing field and ensure that small local businesses have an equal opportunity to compete. Continue reading

Image: Environmental Action Walmart Webcast
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 19, 2014

Webcast: ILSR & Allies Respond to Walmart’s Environmental Claims

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/webcast-ilsr-responds-walmarts-environmental-claims/

When Walmart’s top executives organized a live broadcast event to present what they claimed was progress in greening the company’s operations, ILSR joined with leaders of OUR Walmart and Environmental Action to produce a live webcast response attended by hundreds of environmental activists. Click through to watch our 45-minute event. Continue reading

Photo: Walmart truck
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 13, 2013

New Report Reveals Walmart’s Climate Impact

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/walmart-climate/

Today, ILSR issued a report on Walmart’s rapidly expanding climate pollution and joined with leading environmental organizations in calling for change. The new report, Walmart’s Assault on the Climate: The Truth Behind One of the Biggest Climate Polluters and Slickest Greenwashers in America, finds: Nearly a decade after launching its sustainability campaign, Walmart’s greenhouse gas… Continue reading