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What Kind of Economic Recovery?

The Covid-19 pandemic is a serious public health problem with a side effect of cratering the economy. How long it will take to “get back to normal” is anyone’s guess. Still, it’s not like someone dropped a nuclear bomb on us, killing everyone and laying waste to buildings and infrastructure. The economic engine can restart. But how? Strong Towns mused a bit on that subject today. It is an thought-provoking article.

In a nutshell, Strong Towns points out the importance of entrepreneurs who run local businesses vs. local-area businesses that are part of corporate portfolios. Think Flapjacks vs. Dennys. Sure, both Flapjacks and Dennys are valuable area restaurants that employ local workers. However one is a locally-owned, built-from-the-ground-up business, whereas the other is a restaurant in an international chain of 1600 restaurants headquartered in South Carolina and traded on Wall Street (NASDAQ: DENN). Which of the two restaurants will have the passion to get back on its feet in Arden Arcade? Answer - the one that rebuilt its Mid-Century Modern restaurant on El Camino after a disastrous fire, the one that re-hired its long-time employees, the one that holds fund-raisers for community organizations - Flapjacks. There are plenty of Flapjacks-type entrepreneurial small businesses in Arden Arcade (all those little car repair shops, for example) yet it is fairly easy to see the scales are strongly tipped in favor of corporate enterprises like Winco or Walmart. It is recommended that you take a look at the Strong Towns article and ask yourself if entrepreneurial local businesses get a fair shake from the County (hint: unlikely). Then picture the post-pandemic recovery as brought forth by the County. Of course, it is helpful that we have a local Chamber of Commerce that speaks on behalf of the economy hereabouts. But what if our community was a municipality - with civic leaders elected and empowered to care about Arden Arcade - instead of our community being just another nondescript, easily-ignored, part of Sacramento County’s #NotMontana UnCity? What would the eventual economic recovery be like in that case?

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Entrepreneurial local business have been vital to our community and will be essential as the local economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. We need local bike shops like Kinetic Cycles, custom confectioneries like Capital Confections, ice cream parlors like Leatherby’s, hardware stores like Emigh’s that have been family-owned for 112 years, drugstores like Anderson Brothers that have been in business locally for over 70 years, and new businesses like Estelle’s that have brought a “something special” touch of quality to our desert of corporate chains and Goodwill drop-offs.
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