Summary of Small Business and the City

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Small Business and the City book summary


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Suburban shopping malls and “big-box” stores often cause vacancies in commercial buildings in downtowns and Main Street shopping districts. Now, a movement that originated in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is countering the shift away from downtown clusters and to suburban malls. “Business Improvement Associations” (BIAs) collect a tax from their urban neighborhood’s commercial property owners to improve their areas and boost their business prospects – without direct government aid. Rafael Gomez, a professor, Andre Isakov, a park designer, and Matthew Semansky, a journalist, explain a study of urban development and decline in Canada. They emphasize the way that local businesses can respond to the threat of big suburban retail centers that deplete downtowns. They show how governments can make their jurisdictions friendlier to small businesses with the right zoning rules and support of good schools and mass transit. The authors’ conclusions apply to all modern cities around the world. getAbstract recommends their insights to business owners large and small, city planners, zoning boards, investors, entrepreneurs and citizens who are interested in preserving their neighborhoods’ “sense of place.”

In this summary, you will learn

  • What collective impact small businesses have on local economies;
  • How “Business Improvement Associations” (BIAs) support small business clusters, often in challenging locations; and
  • How government can promote entrepreneurial vitality.

About the Authors

Rafael Gomez teaches employment relations at the University of Toronto. Andre Isakov manages park planning and design for Coquitlam, British Columbia. Matthew Semansky has written for several publications, including the National Post and the Halifax Chronicle Herald.



Small Business, Big Impact
Entrepreneurial density holds local economies together and builds healthy neighborhoods. A study of 2,953 counties in the United States showed higher per capita income growth in those with higher densities of local independently operated small businesses. Yet...

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