An economic transformation is consistent with the evolution of a planetary civilization. Co-working and incubator space provides the foundation for rebuilding communities devastated by the economic downturn. It has been said that entrepreneurial endeavors and the stimulation of small business will restore a fundamental order of relationships lost to the corporatocracy take-over of America and the world. Effective use of the ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standards will help empower the change even in corporations, as they are too large to simply disappear now.
Economics for a New World Order
A study focusing on New Orleans compared 179,000 square-feet of retail space that is home to 100 independent businesses to the same-sized space that is home to a single supermarket. The former generated $105 million in sales with $34 million staying in the local economy, while the latter generated $50 million in sales with just $8 million staying locally, and necessitated 300,000 square feet of parking space.
Another study looked at 2,953 US counties, both rural and urban, and found that the ones with a larger density of small, locally owned businesses had experienced higher per capita income growth, whereas those with higher levels of chain businesses had experienced a negative impact on income growth. They note, that “opening a single Wal-Mart store lowers the average retail wage in the surrounding county by 0.5 – 0.9%”.
Back in the UK, the National Retail Planning Forum, in a report ironically part-funded by supermarkets, found that every time a large supermarket opens, on average 276 local jobs are lost; an impact, which can be felt “up to 15km away”. So, if chain businesses are a less efficient way of creating jobs and generating local employment, how about their ability to produce stronger and happier communities?
One striking extensive study from the US in 2001 found that communities with large supermarkets had fewer non-profit-making groups and organisations that build social capital (such as political, religious and business groups). The report even linked the presence of large supermarkets with lower voter turnout at elections! They hypothesise that such a drop in community cohesion is due to the disappearance of local businesses, which perform a vital function in providing ‘community glue’.
It seems we are stuck on a conveyor belt towards something that doesn’t work and doesn’t meet our needs, and which centralizes wealth and power away from our communities. As the New Economics Foundation put it:
The problem is that consumers themselves lament the loss of local shops, yet are caught in a vicious circle where choice and price, work and travel patterns, brands and advertising, all conspire to undermine the desire for a vibrant local economy.
Additional Perspectives to Ponder
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