Small business development has increasingly been embraced by all Integration Initiative sites as a means to advance place-based goals like corridor revitalization and system change goals like economic inclusion.

Small business development has increasingly been embraced by all Integration Initiative sites as a means to advance place-based goals like corridor revitalization and system change goals like economic inclusion.

As a former economic development director for two city halls, I know people gravitate toward the promise of growing businesses to grow jobs, and recognize small business’ historically disproportional role in job creation. But, the sometimes decades-old “business as usual” systems involved are not only failing to produce robust, much less equitable, outcomes for low income people; but the field itself is also questioning many of its longstanding practices amid the aftermath of the Great Recession and the apparent restructuring of our economy. Hence the need for experimentation.

Living Cities' Integration Initiative sites have each been drawn to this promise and have been experimenting. Given the growing importance of this work to TII sites, Living Cities decided to document the activities at each site, identify what has been achieved through this work, and assess the factors related to implementation and outcomes.

The resulting report is guided by a framework for thinking about small business development initiatives that looks at the variety of _ goals _ associated with the work, the range of _ strategies _ developed to address the barriers to business growth, and the variety of _ tools _ that can be used to implement strategies.

The Integration Initiative experience highlighted some broad lessons and insights on small business development practices and the integration of small business development into larger community and economic development initiatives that we think might be valuable to others doing this work to broaden the numbers and types of people who benefit from the sought after increased economic activity.

View or download the Executive Summary here.