Sustainable Business Network Releases Small Business Report, “Taking Care of Business”





PHILADELPHIA (Press Release – November 18, 2011) – Recognizing that Philadelphia’s 93,000 small businesses provide 65 percent of the jobs in the city, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) announced today the release of “Taking Care of Business: Improving Philadelphia’s Small Business Climate,” a report detailing a yearlong study analyzing Philadelphia’s small business climate.

The study, which concludes that Philadelphia has improved its support of small businesses in recent years but still lags behind the nation in creating and supporting small businesses (defined as 50 employees or less), offers nine recommendations to streamline government regulation, foster an improved climate for business creation, and otherwise support small businesses, which represent 98 percent of all businesses in Philadelphia. The study was made public today by SBN at the Social Venture Institute, a two-day training conference teaching entrepreneurs how to run successful businesses that have a positive social and economic impact.

“Small businesses play a critical role in producing jobs for our citizens and in creating the social and environmental impacts that help create a stronger local economy,” said Leanne Krueger-Braneky, executive director of SBN. “If our local businesses are not profitable, they will not have the resources to create new jobs or green their facilities. Businesses must first survive, and only then can they take proactive steps to benefit their communities and the environment.”

Funded by the William Penn Foundation, the study included analysis of business surveys, focus groups and interviews with more than 100 small business owners and more than 20 small business support organizations, as well as with leadership at key City agencies that deal with small business on a regular basis, including the departments of Health, Licenses and Inspections, Commerce, and Revenue, as well as the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Procurement Department. Most business owners who participated in the study expressed a belief that government poses substantial obstacles to small business formation and growth, resulting in the shared belief that Philadelphia is a tough place to open and operate a business.

The study further examines the impact of the City’s taxing, regulatory and service delivery systems and how they can be improved to better encourage small business formation and growth. In the report, SBN makes nine recommendations, many of which are budget-neutral, to foster a better climate for small business development and growth. These include:

• Reduce the time, cost and confusion of obtaining approvals;

• Simplify the tax compliance burden for small businesses;

• Ensure laws do not unnecessarily harm small businesses;

• Reform the inspection system to ensure it is fair, objective and offers the right to a timely appeal;

• Partner with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and nonprofit support organizations to increase financing to small businesses;

• Encourage collaboration and increased accountability among small business support organizations;

• Transfer vacant land and enforce tax foreclosure laws to provide land for new and expanding businesses;

• Consolidate and modernize the City’s procurement process to increase small business participation; and

• Improve communication between government and small businesses.

“Small businesses are what drive economic growth and their health is essential for job creation,” said Krueger-Braneky. “So small business development and growth is not just a peripheral strategy for economic development in Philadelphia. It’s essential to the City’s economy.”

The full report is available on the Sustainable Business Network Web site, www.sbnphiladelphia.org.

About the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia

The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) is a nonprofit business organization that brings together local leaders who share a common passion to grow successful businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible. SBN works with businesses from startups to older companies who want to create or maintain organizations that respect their employees, value the community and protect the earth.

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