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Today’s social challenges require societal responses. But how can we provide collective responses when our world has a broken politics and business? It can seem so overwhelming, whether you’re a small shoppe owner, or a climate change motivated activist. What can be done?
Out lab specializes in the development and enhancement of institutions of collective action. Where government fails, we have institutions we can develop to step in its place. When big business is abusive, we can convert enterprise to meet community needs.
The Mainstreet USA initiative is our approach to unifying these projects and practices under one comprehensive program. Municipal economic development agencies face numerous challenges for assisting local and independent businesses in their communities. And increasingly, small businesses are feeling that municipalities are throwing them to the wayside in favor of chasing smokestacks and server farms (e.g. large employers and taxpayers). Time and time again, studies have shown that the “attraction and retention” approach fails to enhance community well-being.
The Mainstreet USA Initiative is a civic oriented public-private partnership. The initiative serves as toolbox for university extension professionals, as well as city planners and municipal economic developers. By interlinking strong participatory governance with community wealth-building institutions, we seek to enhance the resiliency of marginalized and rural communities to engage in self help community economic development.