American Rescue Plan Act is a big moment for small businesses in Jacksonville

A once-in-a-lifetime event – ​​the US $1.9 trillion bailout act – offers Jacksonville the opportunity to strengthen its economy by supporting the development of local small businesses.

Small businesses create local wealth, with benefits for almost every aspect of the community and region. They provide a path to prosperity for industrious entrepreneurs and keep more of their economic output in the community than third-party-owned businesses. This production is used to support schools, public safety, roads, parks and affordable housing.

They also contribute to the character and individuality of our community. But one of the biggest challenges Jacksonville faces is leveling the playing field for small businesses and intentionally moving away from the “Amazon-take-all” trajectory of the past decade.

Studies by economists on both sides of the political aisle have repeatedly found that economic development incentives have little influence on a company’s ultimate decision to move to another city. Moreover, these funds are better used for local quality of life issues, such as infrastructure, education and health.

In fact, Area Development magazine’s 2020 Business Leaders Survey found that out of 28 site selection factors, the top five factors influencing a business’s decision to relocate were the availability of labor. skilled labour, accessibility to highways, energy availability and costs, quality of life and labour. costs.

But how can the City make the important pivot to refocus its economic development strategies to better support local small businesses? It can begin by asking three questions: Will the investment of funds create local wealth? Will the investment of funds help close the racial and gender gaps in business ownership? Will the investment of funds help strengthen the overall environment for small business development?

Then consider implementing the following ideas:

  • Build a stronger infrastructure to cultivate, grow and support local small businesses through training, coaching and funding.

  • Bridging the gap between racial entrepreneurs through programs that could include providing childcare for working parents, offering credit counseling and direct mentoring, creating opportunities to own a commercial property and the relaxation of collateral and credit score requirements for small business loans.

  • Develop community-owned grocery stores in underserved areas, just like Lift Jax is doing in the Eastside.

  • Cultivate small-scale manufacturing and local and regional supply chains.

  • Buy essential commercial property and place it in a community land trust. Support employee share ownership.

  • Finally, favor small local businesses, as well as local and small purchases.

Small, local businesses are vital to our economy and are key to moving us forward towards a fairer future. Now is the time to safeguard this potential through intentional action.

DL Brown is a Jacksonville attorney who does consulting work for nonprofit arts and environmental groups.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Guest Column: Big Moment for Small Businesses in Jacksonville

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