by Niles Anderegg, research and content development associate, ICMA
Much of the discussion around economic development recently has focused on big projects like Amazon's HQ2. Small businesses, however, are an important part of the economic character of communities across the United States. These small businesses work with their local governments to help them grow and succeed, which also helps the city or county's overall economic health.
With this in mind, ICMA has compiled some resources that local governments can use to better manage their relationships with small businesses and private sector partners.
1. Why Small Business Matters. This 2017 PM magazine article looks at the value of small business and also looks at specific areas that a local government should focus on when trying to help small businesses. Examples include improving the survival rate of small businesses, as well as focusing on measuring the effectiveness of a community's economic development program.
2. Taking the P3 Route to Reinvent Downtown. Another opportunity to support small businesses is through using a public-private partnership (P3) to reinvent downtown neighborhoods. This article provides examples of success stories where local governments used P3 projects to redevelop their downtowns, leading to small businesses investing in these neighborhoods.
3. Local Governments in a Restructuring Economy. Small business also plays a vital role in a changing and challenging economic environment. Where old industries are downsizing and, in some cases, leaving the communities they called home for many years. The blog post argues that the solution to this economic restructuring for local governments should be to focus on partnerships with educational and medical institutions as well as small businesses and nonprofits.
4. More BIG Ideas for Small Business. For more of a nuts-and-bolts approach to dealing with small businesses, this document from 2014 builds on research from the National League of Cities by detailing concrete steps that local governments can take to help their local governments. The document also gives such tips as suggesting that local governments provide copyright, patent, and trademark protection assistance.