Skip to main content
Next City Local Economy

How localities can save small businesses through local economy preservation funds

Centering community and place Expanding democratic ownership

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold in the US through the summer of 2020, evidence mounts that the pandemic has become an extinction event for small businesses. One such indicator is a survey done by the popular business review site Yelp, which in July 2020 reported that of the businesses that announced that they were closing due to COVID-19 restrictions, 55% of them will not reopen. In a single one-month stretch from mid-June to mid-July, more than 15,700 businesses listed on Yelp shuttered for good.

Dramatic interventions are necessary to preserve the remaining local businesses at risk of failure and prevent further consolidation of the economy in the hands of private equity and absentee corporations. In one such intervention, states and cities could create holding companies – local economy preservation funds (LEPFs) – to purchase small and medium-sized enterprises, hold them during the crisis, and refloat in the recovery. Financing might come from the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility, or from private or philanthropic capital.

To ensure firms remain locally owned and in the public interest, the funds could support existing owners through the crisis, or mandate or preference exit of firms to local owners, to ESOPs and cooperatives, to state and local governments, or to people of color. Policymakers should put in place incentives to support employee buyouts. Some firms might remain in municipal or state ownership over the long run, generating public income. Some funds might be organized explicitly to serve businesses owned by or employing high numbers of people of color.

The Democracy Collaborative and its Next System Project have been sharing this idea with local leaders in various parts of the country. On this page are resources and articles that offer details and perspective on how local economy preservation funds would work. 

More related work

Default Image

HAN Anchoring Resilience: Aligning Supply Chains and Impact Purchasing for Community Health summit

Today the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) convened the Anchoring Resilience: Aligning Supply Chains and Impact Purchasing for Community Health summit to catalyze the conversation around how the healthcare sector could collaborate to more intentionally onshore and localize production of PPE and other important supplies with emphasis on equity, sustainability, and supply chain resilience. HAN released a white paper “Reimagining Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Chains” that calls for national leadership and healthcare sector collaboration to create PPE production capacity for American sourced and manufactured supplies.

read more
November 19, 2020
We can't wait to see you again (Nick Bolton/Unsplash)

Local economy preservation fund proposal goes to Biden administration

A plan for local economy preservation funds that would “save local businesses at scale” that would otherwise be casualties of the economic damage done by the CIVID-19 epidemic was delivered today to the Biden-Harris transition team by The Democracy Collaborative and the Council of Development

read more
November 2, 2020
YouGov-Democracy Collaborative 2020 poll

Our poll shows a popular mandate for bold moves toward a democratic economy

The 2020 poll by YouGov for The Democracy Collaborative shows broad support for innovative policies that lead to a reparative and sustainable economy in which wealth and power are shared broadly.
read more