When small town entrepreneurs prosper, they help their community prosper. It’s one of my core beliefs, and it’s supported by some scholarly research.
Charles M. Tolbert, Baylor University, looked at the effects of small business on their local community. His research shows that more locally-oriented business establishments are associated statistically with:
- higher average income levels
- less income inequality
- lower poverty levels
- lower unemployment
- less juvenile delinquency
- less crime
Tolbert said that business owners are a local independent middle class, vested in the locality, embedded in the community, and acting as stakeholders.
Tolbert, Troy Blancahrd and Carson Menken, Louisiana State University, are adding research on the number of small businesses per person and health. More small businesses are associated with:
- lower levels of obesity
- lower levels of diabetes
- lower rate of death
The number of larger businesses in a community was not associated with any change in health. They speculate that the entrepreneurial culture may be associated with better investment in health care facilities, recruitment of physicians, and a better social environment. Business owners may be more likely to back walkability improvements.
(Here’s just one of the news stories on this research.)
I think there’s a basic reason for this: the best solutions always come from within. When local entrepreneurs prosper, they have more resources to work on implementing those solutions.