South Carolina Rejects (Some) Corporate Welfare
Amazon.com, Inc. already had been gifted free land, worker training and tax abatements before starting to build a new distribution center in S.C. But that wasn't enough. The corporation demanded five years of sales-tax free operation in the state, threatening to abandon its plans otherwise. Small businesses and taxpayer advocates fought the scheme and won this week, as a strong bi-partisan majority in the House
We hope the state will now act on the aggressive fixes proposed in this just-published Bloomberg / Business Week commentary by AMIBA's Jeff Milchen. He contends Amazon should be made to collect sales tax in all of the states where it maintains facilities (it does so in only five of 17) and that we must pass national reform to stop handicapping storefront businesses. Please keep this momentum growing by sharing widely!
State-level reforms also continue to progress, with Texas and Connecticut advancing bills this month (the CT bill foolishly adds a sales tax increase to a measure squeezing the "Amazon loophole," undermining the work of tax fairness advocates). We're eager to help you with local outreach on the topic, such as producing local op-eds or materials. Also, AMIBA just released this collection charting the many Amazon Inc. facilities in the U.S. that seem to go unnoticed by state officials, as well as further sales tax reform action resources.
Post-publication updates: Critics said S. Carolina's actions would drive business away. To the contrary, major new locations and expansions immediately followed (though one of them is Walmart). However, after Amazon committed to adding 2,000 jobs (it previously claimed it would created 1,250), the House reversed course and passed a 5 year sales tax exemption for Amazon, which we expect will become law.
Indie Business News Briefs
Congress and the President repealed a widely unpopular provision that would have required every business to file a 1099 form for each business-to-business transaction of $600 and up, beginning in 2012. We had little doubt it would be revoked, but it's good to see the deal done.
"The Devolution of Marketing" (pdf) makes the case for independent business from a different and welcome perspective: that of producers and manufacturers, and explores the perils of selling to mega-retailers.
The Wall St. Journal reported on the problem of increasing vacancies in U.S. malls and strip developments/big box clusters. The story mentions the rapid building of retail capacity since 2000, but neglects to consider we already had an over-supply of mall and big box space even then, as Stacy Mitchell and Jeff Milchen pointed out a decade ago. The U.S. now hosts 10 times more retail space per capita than many wealthy European nations.
The Rush to Build Walkable Urban Grocery Stores How normally large-scale grocers and retailers are fitting into urban settings.
Welcome to the Newest AMIBA Affiliates!
Sustain-a-Bull in Durham, NC
Tennessee Buy Local in Nashville, TN
Hunterdon First in Hunterdon County, NJ
Practical News for Business Owners and Advocates
Should You Offer Paperless Receipts?
A Brief Collection of Resources on Twitter
We emphasize to local business advocates the importance of identifying your target audiences and designing messages for specific groups. In her article "Mind the Gap," Cheryl Heller adds an idea worth trying: "It’s a good idea to map [your audiences] – literally draw them, by size and relationship to each other. It will help you see them, and help you begin the work of understanding them more deeply. What are their needs, their challenges?... What you are trying to say is relevant only if it’s relevant in the context in which they live.”
The Planning Tool Exchange is a new site from the Orton Family Foundation providing many useful tools and resources for community planning and organizing. These include a Big Box Evaluator, tools for engaging people in depicting and visualizing their community future, and much more.
Ideas and Action from Local Alliances
The Concord IBA (MA) helped win passage this week of aformula business cap for a new West Concord Business District. The measure will cap the total number of chains and franchises in the area at 10 (there presently are six) to ensure a healthy variety of independent businesses long-term. Wellfleet, MA also passed a formula business cap this month.
The Corvallis IBA (OR) conducts quick web surveys of their members to help inform CIBA for various purposes. The latest gauged the aggregate employment of CIBA businesses, which board president Kate Lindburg presented to the Corvallis Economic Development Commission this month to illustrate the huge collective impact and importance of CIBA members.
This video from the Asheville Grown Business Alliance features women business owners' thoughts on why being independent matters to them. We welcome all affiliates or other pro-local business alliances to highlight their videos here.
Metro IBA (Twin Cities) includes a brief letter from their board president in each newsletter to discuss board activity, reinforce participation in the IBA’s programs and events, thank members, and help members recognize the organization is led by people like them. An indie bookstore owner profiled in St Paul Pioneer Press says Metro IBA is “a gift to our businesses," helping drive customers to local independents.
Congratulations to the Santa Fe Alliance, recipient of a $20,000 grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation to support their Food and Fuels Program. The program helps develop local renewable energy and helps connect area food producers to grocers and citizens in Northern New Mexico. Santa Fe is among affiliates using AMIBA's fiscal sponsorship to receive foundation grants.
Tampa Independent Business Alliance co-founder and Inkwood Books owner Carla Jimenez was featured in a report on sales tax fairness and champions reform in Florida.
The Belknap IBA (NH) is partnering with the Laconia Muskrats baseball club to bring them new support from BIBA members while giving members substantially discounted rates on outfield signs for the 2011 season.
Local First Utah holds their 2nd annual Neighborhood Business District Conference May 6th. Attendees will learn about Salt Lake City's local business support programs, network with other business owners, and learn how to form or improve local business districts. Speakers include leaders of the Austin IBA (TX).
Of course, many local alliances are preparing for the annual Independents Week in July. Check out the online resources and let us know if we can help you plan your local events!
April Additions to Member Resources
AMIBA affiliates can access these resources by logging in here before clicking on links below.
IBA Member Welcome kit examples We've started with examples from Columbia, MO and Austin, TX.
Collection of IBA logos and taglines If you're looking for ideas for a new logo or tagline for your group or a new campaign, perhaps these will provoke ideas.
Special Policies While AMIBA provides model policies for a wide range of operations, we've begun a collection of policies developed by local groups for specific situations, starting with StayLocal's policy on complaints about member businesses and ShoLo's explanation of why franchises are not eligible for their membership.
Primer for city officials and employees Local First Utah created this item to concisely educate Salt Lake City employees about the economic importance of local independents and offers ten specific and realistic actions they expect from the City to support the local entrepreneurial community. This two-pager is easily adapted for your community and makes a great reference for your organization's members, as well as the city/town.
AMIBA is thrilled to announce the Louisville IBA will host our next national conference in early 2012. Look for dates next month.
Spring / Summer Events
2011 Economic Vitality Forums, hosted by The Ford Institute and Rural Development Initiatives. May 4 in South Coast, OR and May 6 in Silverton, OR.
National Main Streets Conference May 22-25, Des Moines, IA.
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies conference June 14-17, Bellingham, WA.
Regards to Rural Conference June 24-25 in Corvallis, OR.
Independents Week Across the U.S., week of July 4