Business Lending, Bike Deliveries and Bee Hives: This Month in Economic Development

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Our monthly roundup of the latest news in economic development filtered through a city-focused lens. Reading something interesting? Share it with @robbins617.

Could this be the future of online shopping? German start-up Kiezkaufhaus allows consumers to purchase local goods online for same-day delivery by bike. (image courtesy Kiezkaufhaus)

A new concern for small businesses is predatory lending. Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is raising a red flag about potential predatory lending to local business owners. Across the country there are reportedly a growing number of unregulated, alternative online lenders that are charging high interest rates to businesses that likely can’t afford the payments. For example, a restaurant owner in Los Angeles is paying a 60 percent interest rate on a $30,000 loan. The city of Chicago aims to create new regulations to curb this predatory practice that could be a national model for other cities.

Cities are navigating how to create healthy and diverse retail sectors. Striking the right balance of retention and attraction strategies for retail is an ongoing challenge for local economic developers. When developers flock to “hot spot” neighborhoods, there two negative consequences. First, existing businesses might be forced to shutter their doors, as seen in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  At the same time, it’s difficult to attract retail to neighborhoods that aren’t seen as top choices for investment. Cities in NLC’s Big Ideas for Small Business peer network recently shared their best practices for ensuring that all businesses have a chance to be successful, and that all neighborhoods have access to affordable goods and services.

Small businesses in Baltimore are recovering from riot-related damage. During recent unrest and demonstrations in Baltimore and Ferguson, local businesses suffered serious damage from looting to fires to broken windows. Although attention (rightfully so) has been turned to police and community relations, the question remains how should cities mitigate riot-related damage to small businesses?

NLC Local Jobs Report shows positive growth overall and in local transportation jobs. The latest NLC Local Jobs Report analysis found the month of April 2015 marked the longest period (five months) of consistent local government employment growth since the start of the recession in 2009. The report also found that the level of local transportation employment growth remained relatively positive during the past few years, despite the recession, likely due to federal stimulus funding. (For more local transportation information, check out the webinar on Innovative Approaches to Infrastructure Funding during Infrastructure Week.)

Idea of the month: Local goods ordered online, delivered by bike in Germany. Could this be the future of online shopping? German start-up Kiezkaufhaus allows consumers to purchase local goods online for same-day delivery by bike.  It’s the convenience of online shopping plus the added benefit of supporting small local shops. Sounds like a win-win.

What we’re reading. The launch of What Works Cities, which will help cities use data and performance management approaches to improve local government operations. Cities can apply now to be included in the first cohort of cities.

For the urban farmers among us. It’s official, you can now have chickens, ducks, goats, and bee hives on your property in Pittsburgh thanks to new zoning changes. Here are five reasons from NLC why you should promote urban agriculture.

Robbins_small (2)About the author: Emily Robbins is the Senior Associate of Finance and Economic Development at NLC. Follow Emily on Twitter: @robbins617.