Big Ideas for Small Business

Small businesses are an essential component of a strong local economy. Our nation’s small businesses not only create well-paying jobs, but also deliver vital goods and services, generate sales tax revenue, and contribute to the unique character and livability of neighborhoods. 

Local leaders are in a unique position to help support and develop small businesses. Business owners must work with their local governments to acquire permits and licenses, and to schedule inspections. But more and more, cities are taking this relationship one step further by providing additional tools and resources to empower business owners and help foster a strong small business community.  

The Big Ideas for Small Business toolkit discusses important strategies for how local leaders can be better advocates for small businesses. Our report provides guidance on creating ecosystems that support small business growth; reorganizing city resources to better meet the needs of small businesses; and providing business owners with access to new sources of capital. Download the Big Ideas for Small Business Report.

Specific strategies highlighted in this report explain how to:

About The Big Ideas for Small Business Peer Network
The best practices featured in this report were generated by the Big Ideas for Small Business network, a partnership launched by the City of Chicago’s Innovation Delivery Team and the National League of Cities (NLC) in December 2012. The Big Ideas for Small Business network provides a platform for local economic development and small business development officials to engage in peer learning around how to support the development of small businesses in their communities. Each month, peer network members gather via conference call or webinar to discuss common challenges, share the details of successful strategies, and hear presentations from other cities with replicable programs. In September 2013, the peer network met in Chicago for two-day peer-learning summit hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Cities interested in learning how to better support their small businesses and with more than 200,000 in population are invited to join the Big Ideas for Small Business peer network. Please contact Emily Robbins at