Local Issue: 2040 Comprehensive Plan

MetroIBA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting locally owned, independent businesses in the Twin Cities region. Our mission is to help the Twin Cities maintain its unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, build economic strength, and create an environment where locally owned, independent businesses grow and flourish.

Small businesses employ a large portion of our workforce, help make our communities unique and full of character, and invest in our neighborhoods by spending dollars locally. We ask you to prioritize small business in the comprehensive planning process.

We interact with the city planning process in a wide array of ways. The following are priorities we hope you will consider as you move forward in the comprehensive planning process.

Increase access to affordable commercial spaces for a diversity of local small businesses

• Require new developments on active business corridors to include commercial space on the first floor.
• Require property owners of commercial spaces to look for local business tenants and create a local preference when making lease decisions.
• Incentivize renting out spaces rather than holding them vacant. This could come in the form of a vacant space fee when a commercial space has been vacant for more than a year.
• Assistance to small businesses that want to buy the building they are leasing, including technical support and low-rate financing.
• Promote local control of property and development projects in creative ways like Investment Co-Ops, helping to find local investors, and more. Local owners have a very different mindset than developers and non-local investors who are building/investing with the goal of selling to national real estate investors. Make it as easy as possible for employees to get to work
• Preserve light industrial and other business uses in the city and near transit corridors.
• Expand our public transit system and evaluate hours of operation on select lines to make more workplaces easily accessible for a larger base of employees.

Support small local businesses

• Maximize local procurement for all city purchases. As much of our city purchases as possible should be spent at independent local businesses that are creating jobs and investing in our community.
• Increase access to capital for small businesses through programs that help business owners surmount hurdles often presented by banks that are not in our community interests. This could include a revolving loan fund that does not go through a typical bank approval process.
• Support entrepreneurship with programs to help people start small businesses including maker spaces and other incubator space, and actively help people in these programs grow their businesses to scale and find new spaces in the city.
• Expand and promote programs to defer SAC charges for new businesses. SAC charges shouldn’t be a barrier to getting new businesses started.
• Provide assistance to small businesses that are investing in improvements to make their businesses more accessible for ADA compliance. Proactively reach out to the small business community.
• Dedicate staff time to active outreach to small business owners to increase awareness about existing programs and help more people start and grow their businesses here. Support should not go exclusively to a select few who know the right person to talk to and the right question to ask.
• Treat small business owners as the key community stakeholders that they are. Include small business owners and not just property owners on required outreach about development projects.