Sequester Is Signal To Let Main Street Lead

Sequester – the latest scene in our federally sponsored passion play over budget issues that is becoming the norm. Maybe it’s finally time to look inward and empower Main Street to lead our sustainable recovery.

We keep letting the opportunity on Main Street pass us by. - Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - shuvarahim.com)

We keep letting the opportunity on Main Street pass us by. – Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – shuvarahim.com)

Obviously, the country’s issues didn’t occur overnight and one idea will not solve them. However, with each stalemate, local municipalities are left searching for ways to manage through shortcomings at the federal and state levels.

The usual local recourse is re-doubling traditional economic development. Continue to sweeten offers for manufacturing or major retail partners, create TIF districts, etc. Some communities have seen value in revitalizing downtown districts through the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Approach.

Local business is the ultimate community stakeholder, yet we often pass it by and take it for granted. In mid-2012, Realtor Magazine showed results of the impact that small business has on creating revenue for local communities.

Excitement in 2012 over bi-partisan federal passage of the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) held promise for the concept of “Locavesting” in Main Street. It has been dulled by the lack of urgency on drafting rules for executing the legislation.

Previously, I’ve covered the need to move small business support from “Hallmark holiday” status. Even reaching levels advocated by Main Street supporters – that is directing 10% of your spending to local business – would be a big step.

Some are beginning to think creatively. Bayonne, NJ – following enactment of a similar effort in Marlboro, NJ – has recently proposed tying property tax rebates to local small business spending.

Every community has assets in its toolbox. Local small business incubators – some sponsored by local governments, educational institutions and chambers of commerce – are another way to promote local re-investment.

One of my friends has been active politically for many years both locally and nationally. I asked them why they never took up the opportunity to head to Washington, DC when the chance presented itself. They said they have always known that you get more done on your street than on a highway.

It’s time to think big by thinking small. Let’s recruit within our communities for development like we do outside opportunities. What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments.

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing thinks small is the new big. Learn more at www.catchdriver.com. You can also “like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg or “watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing.

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About catchdrivermarketing

Catch Driver provides marketing and communications services/consultation for small to medium size businesses and non-profits. The "Your Ideas...On Track" slogan means helping organizations and business owners with projects they want to do, but lack staff and time to execute themselves, and working to drive them to a successful outcome. See more at www.catchdriver.com.
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2 Responses to Sequester Is Signal To Let Main Street Lead

  1. Karla Williams says:

    Interesting idea. What type of small business do you see as a viable entity that can be opened and run by the average Joe or Jane that the QCA wants, needs, would sustain that would create a revenues to support not only the owners, but also pay the employees more than minimum wage? The reason I ask is most small neighborhood businesses can’t afford to pay more than minimum wage nor to offer any benefits if they are to compete head to head with big box stores. These types of jobs, which adults are forced to take because of the poor economy, contribute to the deficits faced by cities, states, and the Feds because these employees often need services like Medicaid, food stamps, and subsidized housing. This is the problem with TIFs given to big stores like WalMart in many communities. They bring jobs but the only way their employees can survive is with the help of the Government services offered to the poor and marginalized. http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/retail/bigbox_livingwage_policies11.pdf

    • Hi Karla – Excellent sourcing on your comment as I would expect. I appreciate the comments. My thought in this piece is that the same effort we put into looking outside for the magic bean that will save a community, or waiting on revenue from higher levels, we could put into developing our small businesses.

      Clearly, those industries that have located due to ties with entities like the Rock Island Arsenal in this community are obviously subject to the political winds.

      But, if we began looking at the opportunities we usually throw incentives and sweetener to outside and look for the ones that are ripe for development inside, municipalities could begin filling gaps with businesses that are home grown.

      You are correct on the point of salaries in the retail sector. For example, what if a community assisted a business with a break that would enable those full time retail employees to afford to acquire benefits.

      I was really intrigued by the NJ example because while it was providing relief to residents, it was doing so by increasing sales for local businesses that they can then roll back into the business.

      As I said in the piece, one idea won’t address it all. My point was many small business opportunities in a community get overlooked while everyone chases a cure-all company project that could then leave on the whim of a major corporate decision outside of that community’s control. But, ideas like the NJ example are a creative use of an economic development tool. Thanks again for reading and commenting!!

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