The Community Land Use and Economics Group is a small, specialized, consulting firm that helps community leaders create vibrant downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. Our work focuses on developing forward-looking economic transformation strategies, with particular emphasis on cultivating locally owned businesses, removing regulatory and financial barriers, creating effective incentives to stimulate new investment, reusing older and historic commercial buildings, and outlining practical implementation plans. Our clients include local and state governments, nonprofit organizations, business improvement districts, developers, and planning firms in the US and abroad.
The Kauffmann Foundation's Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship (which measures the economic health of small businesses operating for more than five years) has found that small business survival rates are higher than at any time in the past three decades. And the smallest businesses are the ones with the greatest growth.
Morningstar reports that dying shopping malls - particularly those that have lost a department store or that were refinanced in the mid-2000s - are causing a drag on the commercial mortgage-backed securities market, with big losses continuing on the horizon.
A couple has just opened a small market in the small town of New Prague, MN. The market focuses on local sourcing, is entirely self-service, and is open (to members) 24/7. You simply let yourself in with your key card... and shop.
Shopping center developer Westfield has identified five trends that it believes will shape retail in the coming years. And, we agree! The five trends are:
1. Rental retail: Shoppers - particularly Millennials - are interested in renting more things, rather than owning them (for example, renting a high-end handbag for a special event rather than buying one).
2. Retail "classrooms": Shoppers want to learn things from the stores they patronize.
3. Enhanced reality: Shoppers (again, particularly younger ones) like using Augmented Reality to learn more about the products they're considering buying.
4. Good-choice loyalty programs: Shoppers increasingly gravitate towards loyalty programs that not only reward them for repeat purchases but also for good lifestyle choices, like recycling, volunteering for nonprofit organizations, and walking.
5. Sensory retail: Being able to see and touch a product is good, but shoppers prefer shopping environments that engage all their senses - not just sight and touch, but also sound and smell.
Working World is helping a small, organic grocery store in Brooklyn transition to a worker-owned cooperative. Working World finances the buy-in on behalf of current employees, taking a piece of each worker’s share of profits until they’re paid back with interest.
The City of New York has invested $1.2 million to grow the number of worker cooperatives in the city. It's part of an effort to reduce income disparity and create wealth. In the first year, the program reports establishing or converting (from conventional format small businesses) 21 new worker-owned coops. Here's the annual report.