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Building Community, Strengthening Economies

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    A significant share of locally owned businesses are struggling to secure the financing they need to grow.  Our 2014 Independent Business Survey found that 42 percent of local businesses that needed a loan in the previous two years had been unable to obtain one.  Another survey by the National Small Business Association likewise found that 43... Continue reading

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    Over the last few years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has dramatically reduced its support for smaller small businesses and shifted more of its loan guarantees to larger small businesses. Continue reading

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    Since 2000, the overall volume of business lending per capita at banks has grown by 26 percent, but this expansion has entirely benefited large businesses. Small business loan volume at banks is down 14 percent and micro business loan volume is down 33 percent. Continue reading

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    Even as their big competitors are awash in capital, many locally owned businesses are struggling to secure the financing they need to grow. A new ILSR analysis has found that, since 2000, bank lending to large businesses is up 36 percent, while small business loan volume has fallen 14 percent and "micro" business loans — those under $100,000 — have plummeted 33 percent. Continue reading

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    When the country’s giant banks were teetering on the verge of collapse during 2008’s financial crisis, the U.S. government stepped in to bail them out. The banks were, in a phrase that has since become infamous, “Too Big To Fail.” Would the government do it again? And does the expectation that it would step in give megabanks an unfair competitive advantage over local community banks? Those are the questions at the heart of an eagerly awaited report released at the end of July by the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal department. In a conclusion that highlights the need for more regulatory action to reduce concentration in the banking system, the G.A.O. found that the answers to both questions are “yes.” Continue reading

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    As this graph shows, giant banks consistently make poorer lending decisions and write-off more bad loans than community banks do, and the financial crisis heightened this trend. Continue reading

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    The number of community banks has declined sharply in the last few years. Part of the decline is owed to the fact that virtually no new banks have been created since 2009. Between 2004 and 2008, an average of about 300 commercial banks disappeared each year, mostly as a result of mergers. But these losses were offset by the creation of 146 new banks each year on average. From 2009 to 2013, we continued to lose about the same number of banks annually, but gained only 6 new banks on average each year. Continue reading

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    The precipitous decline in the number of community banks in recent years is a national crisis, and there's a fierce debate underway right now about what's to blame. Continue reading

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    Small business looms large in American political rhetoric. From the campaign trail to the floor of the U.S. House and Senate, members of Congress love to evoke the diner and dry cleaner, the neighborhood grocer and local hardware store. Ensuring the well-being of Main Street, we might easily assume, is one of their central policy aims. The legislative track record tells another story. It is one in which the interests of big corporations are dominant, and many laws and regulations seem designed to bend the marketplace in their favor and put small, independent businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Continue reading

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    In 2014, community-based financial institutions made 60 percent of all small business loans, even though they control only 24 percent of banking assets. Continue reading

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    Small and mid-sized financial institutions devote a greater share of their assets to small business lending. Continue reading

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    A new tool called Bank Local, which was developed with input from ILSR and other experts, makes it easier to assess the impact that banks have on their communities. Continue reading

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    The United States is much less a nation of entrepreneurs than it was a generation ago. This report suggests that the decline of small businesses is owed, at least in part, to anticompetitive behavior by large, dominant corporations. Drawing on examples in pharmacy, banking, telecommunications, and retail, it finds that big companies routinely use their size and their economic and political power to undermine their smaller rivals and exclude them from markets. This report presents three compelling reasons to bring a commitment to fair and open markets for small businesses back into antitrust enforcement and public policy, and concludes by outlining several specific steps to revive competition and small business. Continue reading

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    In this episode, Christopher Mitchell, the director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative and Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of ILSR and director of ILSR's Community-Scaled Economies initiative interview Building Local Power's first guest outside of ILSR. Our guest this week is Justin Dahlheimer, the President of the First National Bank of Osakis in west-central Minnesota. The trio discuss the benefits of community banking and how banks that have a vested stake in their community lend in ways that increase the vitality of communities like Osakis. Continue reading

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    A report published by ILSR is recognized as “Best Antitrust and Small Business Article” as part of the annual Jerry S. Cohen Award for Antitrust Scholarship. Continue reading

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