Civic Economics: In Print 2017

Covers 1703It’s been a while since we sat down to update Civic Economics: In Print, a bibliography of English language books that we know about and that cite our work.  We know that our work makes a difference because so many distinguished planners, authors, advocates, and researchers rely on it.  We’re up to 48 with this edition.

To celebrate our fifteenth anniversary, we’ll be highlighting and commenting on many of these books over the coming year, so stay tuned.

If you know of a book we missed, or if you write one, be sure to let us know.  In the meantime, download a copy of Civic Economics: In Print before venturing to your local bookseller.


Celebrating Fifteen Years of Civic Economics

Anniversary MapWe’ve been so busy in 2017, we totally forgot something huge.  Fifteen years ago in July, we left a conventional economic development consulting firm to establish Civic Economics, putting hard data and planning sensibilities to work on a wide range community and economic development challenges.  It’s been quite a ride so far, and we’re grateful to our clients and friends for bringing us so far.  So, from Matt and Dan, thanks!

On the road with Civic Economics: We’re going to need a new map!

Project Map 1605 w ukFourteen years in, Civic Economics is proud of our diverse client base, having served the people of more than 30 states and provinces in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.  After all those miles and experiences, great meals and local beers, we carry that project map around like a trophy.  But a new project renders obsolete that trusty graphic.


We don’t want to step on our client’s plans for the release of our latest work, but we will say that Matt and Dan are planning a trip to England in the Fall of 2016.  Watch this space for more information as the release approaches.

Civic Economics on the Road: Unite in the Queen City

13227483_1335651469794715_940900916353978509_oAmazon and Empty Storefronts, released in January by Civic Economics and our friends at the American Booksellers Association, has made waves across the world of bricks and mortar retail. The 1700+ members of CBA, the Christian Retail Association, have invited Matt Cunningham to join them at Unite 2016, the International Christian Retail Show in Cincinnati.

Matt will be leading sessions on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28. The sessions will focus on the rise of Amazon and the New Localism as it relates to Christian retailers.

In case you missed it, learn more about Amazon and Empty Storefronts and the Civic Economics of Retail.

Photo: Kevin D. Hartnell via Wikimedia Commons



Cover ImageCivic Economics has produced a long string of studies on the economics of local retail and service businesses.  Thanks to years of collaboration with business organizations around the nation, the importance of independent, locally-owned business has become Retail Studies Composedconventional wisdom around the world.

On January 24 in Denver, Civic Economics and longtime partner the American Booksellers Association released Amazon and Empty Storefronts, which we believe will be a highly influential addition to the series.

In Empty Storefronts, we estimated the fiscal and land use impacts of Amazon for the nation and each state.  Though too many states still do not collect sales taxes on Amazon transactions, great progress has been made in the name of tax fairness.  Less well understood is the displacement of retail activity from traditional storefronts, pulling retail space and jobs out of American communities.  Perhaps most pressingly, this displacement produces an almost invisible property tax revenue loss impacting every community and school district in the nation.

At the study site, you’ll find a Complete Report and an Executive Summary available for download, as well as state summary sheets for each state and the District of Columbia.


In 2014, Amazon sold $44.1 billion worth of retail goods nationwide, all while avoiding $625 million in state and local sales taxes.

These sales are the equivalent of 31,000 retail storefronts or 107 million square feet of commercial space, which might have paid $420 million in property taxes.

A total of more than $1 billion in revenue is lost to state and local governments, $8.48 for every household in America.

Amazon also operated 65 million square feet of distribution space, employing roughly 30,000 full-time workers and 104,000 part-time and seasonal workers.

Even counting all the jobs in Amazon distribution centers, Amazon sales produced a net loss of 135,973 retail jobs nationwide.



Free Books!

WIFor us, that is.  You still have to buy your own.

Since 2002, Civic Economics has enjoyed its relationship with the American Booksellers Association, and we especially enjoy their conferences.  Bookshop owners and employees are a fun and interesting bunch, and collecting galleys of unpublished books is awesome.

In January 2016, both Dan and Matt will travel to Denver to speak to the ABA’s Winter Institute.

On Monday, January 25, the ABA and Civic Economics will release “Amazon and Empty Storefronts,” a new study of the magnitude and impact of  the ongoing growth of online shopping.

The ABA has been our most reliable partner in conceiving and commissioning innovative studies of the economics of local retail and service provision, and “Amazon and Empty Storefronts” promises to be the most influential yet.

On Tuesday, January 26, Dan will Join Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for “The New Localism,” a discussion of new considerations, trends, and innovations in the indie business world.

We look forward to seeing our bookseller friends in Denver in January.


Hacking Our City in the ATX

HOC - Group PictureAs Austin braced for the annual creativity crush of South By Southwest, a group of planners gathered to explore the challenges facing the city in the first annual Hack Our City.  Dan Houston was fortunate to join the group, which included a few locals and visitors from as far away as Seattle, Atlanta, and Arlington, VA.

With continuing and rapid economic growth, Austin has struggled to preserve affordability and mobility.  Hack Our City explored these closely related challenges in interdisciplinary teams. We may not have found the magic bullet, but the exercise left us locals with a host of great ideas and examples from around the country.

Thanks to SXSW Interactive and the Capital Factory for hosting us.  And look for opportunities to participate in Hack Our City next year.

Localism goes international, as in International Economic Development Council

Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona  (Photo: Jim Poulin/Phoenix Business Journal)

Long-time friend of the firm and regular customer (one more punch in the card and we’ll have to give her a free study) Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona has been named the Citizen Leader of the Year by the International Economic Development Council at its annual conference in Fort Worth.

While we’re always thrilled to see our clients get the recognition they deserve, this one is particularly pleasing to us because it comes from the world of economic development professionals.  Slowly, it seems, the essential message of the localism movement is reaching the mainstream. An industry all too often given to subsidizing big box development needs to understand the very real economic impact of the policy choices.  Kimber, more than any one we know, has driven that point home through persistence and a well-run organization.

So, congratulations, Kimber, and thanks for taking localism international.

Read more about the award HERE and HERE.

CE in Print

CE in Print

How do we know the work of Civic Economics makes a difference? Because so many great writers cite it in their books. CE in PRINT is a bibliography of the 38 books we know of today. If you see another one (or write it), please let us know and we’ll be happy to share it with the world.

Over the years, of course, Civic Economics has been featured in media outlets from the Homer Tribune to the Economist and the New York Times, but there’s just something about a book.

Anyway, please feel free to download CE in PRINT before your next trip to your local bookseller.  Click here for a PDF: CE in Print 1407

Civic Economics in the Comics

Civic Economics in the Comics

Okay, we admit it: our reports may be a bit dry. They are informative, accessible, clear, organized, and those are good things, but we’re not designers and we have hard numbers to get across. So we’re always pleased when the client brings in a design professional to help communicate our findings.

This recent graphic for the Florida horsemen is our new favorite. Civic Economics and Cummings Associates of Boston studied the economic impact trends for horse racing in Florida, and were surprised ourselves at how positive the findings are. Did you know that Florida horse racing is bigger than Spring Training baseball? Or that Florida is actually growing as a hub for the racing industry nationwide? Neither did we. And now horsemen around the nation will, too, from this creative, concise summary of the findings.

Thanks to Remi Belloq of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Community and Technical College for this outstanding cartoon for an upcoming horsemen’s publication.

Learn more about the College’s North American Racing Academy here: