Local Economy Articles

The following list of full text articles includes writings from fellows of the Center for Local Economies as well as from a variety of social, economic, and environmental thinkers who have brought clarity to the task of creating a more sustainable, humane, and dynamic local economy.

The Grace of Import Replacement
Susan Witt

Witt revisits Jane Jacobs’ vision of a successful regional economy that strengthens itself through import substitution, that is, by building up a rich network of local industries. She examines new economic institutions that are capable of providing the necessary land, capital, and labor to develop a thriving regional economy. Susan Witt is Education Director and member of the Board of Directors of the New Economics Institute. Previously she was Executive Director of the E. F. Schumacher Society, the predecessor of New Economics Institute. In 2006 she co-founded the BerkShares local currency program, which has won unprecedented international media attention as a model for other regions.

Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace
Michael Shuman, Alissa Barron, and Wendy Wasserman

This report, published in 2009 by the Wallace Center at Winrock International, examines the challenges and success of community food enterprises–local producers, manufacturers, and retailers of local food. The researchers examine 24 case studies, half domestic and half international, to understand how and why they are successfully competing in the marketplace to provide locally grown and produced food to communities. The Wallace Center supports entrepreneurs and communities as they build a new, 21st century food system that is healthier for people, the environment, and the economy. The Center builds and strengthens links in the emerging chain of businesses and civic efforts focused on making good food—healthy, green, fair, affordable food—an everyday reality in every community.

The Logic of Local Economy
Howard Nemon

In the last few years, the public has been attracted to the concept of “Local First”. A growing movement with a focus on local economy is urging us to produce, hire, and buy local. This article examines the economic, social, and environmental rationale that justify this movement as well as the values and principles required to materialize its objectives. Howard Nemon worked for 18 years in the field of international community development throughout Asia and South America.  He has taught social policy and community development at the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University and international sustainable development at Warren Wilson College. He is currently the Director of the Center for Local Economies.

Economic Impact Analysis: Local Merchants vs. Chain Retailers 
Civic Economics

This study examines the different impacts that local merchants have on the economy as compared to chain retailers. As a case study, it specifically compares the economic impact of a Borders bookstore (retail chain) on the community with two other local booksellers in an economic development project of Austin, TX. Civic Economics is an economic analysis and strategic planning consultancy with offices in Austin and Chicago.  They believe that healthy, sustainable economies develop best in healthy communities.