To grow economy, support small biz

April 24, 2010
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

Indianapolis, home to a higher convergence of chain restaurants per capita than most any U.S. city (44-percent higher than the national average), retained its crown last week.

A group of local entrepreneurs and I have spent the past six months working to open a new independent coffee shop off the Saxony development of Interstate 69’s exit 10. It was a conscious decision to help grow the culture of the area, with a focus on local and organic offerings. We desired to create a focal point for the community, a source of jobs, and a good location where job interviewers and prospects could meet.

We rejected advances by national franchises, and opted instead for a local brand, using local roasters, local milk and local talent. We were even funded by a local bank, and designed by local artists with a website by a local web developer.

[Recently] we learned that the landowner who we worked with opted to give the location to another bidder: Starbucks. To make the project work, their bank wanted a national chain. Now—before you think Starbucks swooped in and offered more money—this was the bank’s call. It was an assessment of risk.

But it’s hard to fault the bank. Chain restaurants are a safer bet than small businesses. We, the consumer, are to blame. We have been driving local shops out of business for years. We vote with our wallets. Every small-business failure increases the overall risk for financiers, which increases the barrier to entry for new small shops.

Without competition, capitalism doesn’t work. With only a few chain players shipping our dollars out to Wall Street, it’s less capitalism than it is corporate colonialism.

We have to change our habits. Otherwise, when we emerge from this recession, what exactly are we emerging into?

Eric Redmond

Bitter/Sweet Coffee LLC


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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.