New Albany Renewal

New Albany Renewal is intended to serve as a repository for ideas relevant to preserving and restoring historic buildings, cleaning up neighboorhoods, revitalizing downtown, and improving the quality of life in New Albany, Indiana.

Location: New Albany, Indiana

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Farmers' Market Brings People Downtown

The primary reason that I have gone downtown for the past several years is the farmer's market. There is nothing like homegrown tomatoes and corn during the summer months.

A few years ago I was delighted that the farmer's market had added some variety with vendors selling fresh flowers, goat cheese, bread, pies, etc. For the past couple summers they have been back to the basics. While I wouldn't want to go through a summer without tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers I can't help but wonder what happened to the goat cheese and bread.

Many farmers markets in the Louisville metro area have expanded their offerings in the past few years. It seems like more variety of goods draw more people.

The farmers market in Bloomington, IN with 60 vendors draws 3,500 customers per week. In addition to produce the vendors carry plants, arts and crafts, and baked goods. Live entertainment helps draw in customers.

Benefits of Local Ownership

Independent businesses not only compete with large chains but with prevailing attitudes that favor the large chains. Consider some of the benefits of local ownership:

  • The profits from local businesses circulate within the community. Independent businesses patronize smaller regional wholesalers and distributors. They rely on other local businesses for services such as banking, accounting, and printing.
  • Local merchants have a vested in interest in the community. Their property taxes support the services that they use. Small business owners support community organizations, volunteer, and donate more financial support locally than large corporations.
  • A homegrown economy composed of a diverse and numerous independent businesses provides a healthy, competitive marketplace.

Check out these links for more information about supporting independent businesses and a healthy local economy:

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Hometown Advantage

Stacy Mitchell is a researcher for the Institute for Local Self Reliance and the author of "The Hometown Advantage." In her book she explores the trend toward a chain store economy and why that might not be the best thing for communities.

There is a perception that giant chains offer more convenience, wider selection, better service, and lower prices. It is assumed that chains create jobs and generate additional tax revenues. Economic development policy that offers incentives and grants and builds infrastructure to attract chains is based on these assumptions. When we look past the assumptions we discover that the public costs may outweigh the gains.

Chains have a place in the economy but does it make sense to use our tax dollars to give large corporations an advantage over locally-owned, independents?

Large chains reduce retail diversity. Reduced competition leaves the consumer at the mercy of absentee-owned companies that can raise prices or abandon the community.

Stacy Mitchell points out , "Local businesses enrich the civic fabric. Small merchants care about their communities more because they are part of those communities. The taxes they pay provide services, like schools and police and parks, that they and their families use. Small merchants give to community causes more than their big competitors. Their purchases and profits tend to circulate within and strengthen the local economy rather than flowing to distant suppliers or corporate headquarters."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Economic Analysis of Independent Business

Small, locally-owned businesses provide economic diversity and stability.

Check out Civic Economics, a economic analysis and strategic planning consulting firm that conducts economic impact studies of specific types of development for various communities.

Click on Economic Analysis and Strategic Planning For Sustainable Prosperity then click on Retail Economics for some of the studies conducted by Civic Economics.

See also,

The Andersonville study found that for every $100 spent in an independent business $68 stays in the local economy while for every $100 spent in a chain only $43 stays in the local economy.

For every square foot occupied by an independent business the local economic impact is $179 while it is $105 for chains.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is another interesting resource:


One study, actually paid for by Wal-Mart, showed that putting a superstore in Greenfield, MA would cost existing businesses $35 million in sales, leading to a net loss of 105,000 square feet of retail space and result in declines in property tax revenue .

Historic Preservation: An Economic Revitalization Tool

Yesterday's Courier-Journal reported that Gov. Fletcher has included a historic preservation tax credit in his proposed tax plan for Kentucky.

The governor of Maryland was quoted regarding a similar program in Maryland, "the most successful economic and community revitalization tool available in the state today" -- generating $3.31 for every $1 invested."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Is Greenway Funding in Danger?

Recent news stories suggest that Federal dollars for the Ohio River Greenway project have not been included in the early version of the budget.

Is the Greenway an important element in the revitalization of downtown New Albany?

The Monon Trail in Indianapolis is an example of a successful greenway project. It is interesting to note that it started as a grassroots effort. Since the mid-1980's 10.5 miles of abandoned Monon railbed have been developed into a recreational trail. The Monon Trail connects with other greenways, including the 5-mile Monon Greenway of Carmel and the White River Trail.

A study done in Sept and Oct of 2000 counted 45,000 to 55,000 users per month and found that trail users will:

come after work and on weekends
come for fitness and exercise for an hour or more
walk, bike, run, skate
be mostly upper-middle class and between 26 and 55
mostly drive to the trail
be satisfied

For more details from the study use the following link and click on Presentation Materials, and then Trail Study Presentation.

The Monon Trail has been good for businesses that have located near the trail entrances. There have been some problems with crime on the trail and some homeowners have objected to having a greenway near their property but overall the project appears to be a great asset.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

What Would You Do With $25,000

I read in the Courier-Journal today that the Jeffersonville City Council has decided to give each member $25,000 for special projects. This started me thinking about what I would do with $25,000. What needs in New Albany could be met with $25,000?

So, I chllenge you, if you had $25,000 to spend on a project that would benefit New Albany what would you do?

Please, no comments regarding the propriety of the Jeffersonville City Council giving themselves $25,000.