Updates for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Our Latest Publications

Find out whats new from CSBDF’s research program on community and economic development. 

Social Capital in the Era of Social Distancing: Community Development Responses to COVID-19
Research spotlight in collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,  published in April 2020.
As local economic systems continue to reel from the effects of COVID-19, there is a need for policy innovation that goes beyond what the public and nonprofit sector typically does for disaster recovery. We summarize existing federal, state, and local level responses through the lens of what the extant literature suggests might be most effective in sustaining small business ecosystems. While it will be some time before we can assess how different initiatives succeeded or failed in response to the crisis, data suggest strategies which engage in capacity-building community partnerships are key for recovery. We highlight a few examples of emerging innovation in this space. Download the spotlight.

Assessing the Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on North Carolina’s Small Business Community
Research report and brief published in April 2020.
The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on small business ecosystems will be unprecedented. Our analysis highlights the extent of the impact on small (employing 1-19) and medium-sized (employing 20-99) businesses in North Carolina. We estimate 141,877 smaller businesses and 1.38 million jobs across the state are in high risk industry sectors like food service and retail. An input-output model illustrates each how each closure or layoff by small businesses results in a substantial loss of earnings, jobs, and tax revenues. Innovative policy solutions are required to aid small business entrepreneurs. We recommend an evidence-based mix of short-term cash grants and long-term low interest financing with partial loan forgiveness. Download the full report and brief.

Peer-Reviewed Scholarship

Articles published in scholarly journals and papers presented at research conferences.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink? Factors Associated with Local Economic Development Strategy Use
Collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published in November 2019.
Local city and county governments have a variety of policy options available to them when engaging in community and economic development. From small business development to affordable housing to industrial recruitment, the menu of strategies a locality could deploy to promote economic growth are numerous.  Two schools of thought prevail on how municipalities make decisions in this important area of public policy. Data collected through an original survey of North Carolina’s local government, and analyzed through a series of regression models, offer some insight to this theoretical debate. Published in Economic Development Quarterly. Download the article.

Beyond Bridging and Bonding: A Multilevel Approach to Describing Social Capital
Collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented in November 2019.
Community development organizations are innovators in the use of social networks to increase programmatic effectiveness. However, existing theoretical narratives which seek to explain the use of social capital by these institutions is limited in its utility. Using a two-dimensional lens of analysis can help explain how community institutions use trust, norms, and reciprocity to increase capacity. Qualitative analysis of 24 semi-structured interviews with leading North Carolina community organizations helps illustrate the important role that social capital can have in local economic development and long-term organizational sustainability. Presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action in San Diego, California. Download the paper and presentation slides.

Building Bonds and Bridges (and Leveraging Links): A Place-Based Mobility Strategy Based on Social Capital Creation
Collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented in May 2019. 
Organizations which seek to address barriers facing economically distressed communities have long been considered a cornerstone of sustainable development policy. But the complexity of place-based challenges – including increasing income inequality and generational poverty – has made the practice of community development more difficult than perhaps ever before. One approach to addressing these issues is the leverage of trust, norms, and social networks to increase the efficacy of community development programs.  Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews, this paper explores how North Carolina’s community development ecosystem uses social capital to promote local economic improvements.  Presented at the biannual Federal Reserve Community Development Research Conference in Washington, D.C.   Download the paper, executive summary brief, and presentation slides. 

Does Government Matter in the Formation of Social Capital? Exploring Variation across United States Counties
Collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Indiana University, presented in April 2019.
Community developers and public policy actors are increasingly utilizing social capital strategies to promote economic growth and revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Analyses of county-level data through a Blinder-Oacaxa decomposition suggest a need to carefully consider how the productive value of community variables that raise social capital change across place. These findings contrast with dominant social capital explanatory narratives that tend to draw solely on regional or demographic determinism. Presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago, Illinois. Download the paper and presentation slides. 

Research Reports

In-depth analyses and assessment of relevant policy issues for both scholars and practitioners.

Assessing Public, Private, and Philanthropic Support for CDFIs: Data on Contributing Operating Revenues and Measures of Efficiency
Published in December 2019.
Community-based financial institutions play a large role in fostering sustainable economic development. Data show revolving loan funds and other community development financial institutions support their programmatic operations from a variety of sources. Loan funds are able to serve large numbers of clients at relatively low staff costs. We offer a few recommendations for practitioners to improve organizational capacity, including an evidence-based exploration on the role of individual donors. Download the full report and brief.

Veteran-Owned Firms: Assessing Current Research and Evaluating Impacts
Published in October 2018.
North Carolina is fortunate to be home to large numbers of Veteran-Owned employer firms that have out-sized economic impact. Although existing data on Veteran needs is limited, current research suggests Veteran entrepreneurs face unique challenges related to access to capital. We suggest benchmarks for evaluating community developer success in this area using Carolina Small Businesses lending data. Download the full report and brief.

Research Spotlights

Succinct, high-level overviews of theoretical debates, data trends, and emergent scholarly literature.

Understanding the Importance of Social Capital
Published in January 2019.
In recent years, the idea that business relationships between entrepreneurs have an innate economic development dimension has been given much attention by scholars. The theory of social capital suggests that networks created by small and medium sized firms can be harnessed to promote outcomes like lower income inequality and sustainable growth. Community development organizations can serve as key social capital generators. Download the spotlight.

Examining the Scope of Florence’s Impact on Small Firms
Published in September 2018.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Florence, little data was available on how North Carolina’s small business community might be impacted. Drawing on existing data allowed a high-level overview how many small firms operated in counties hardest hit by the storm. These findings, which have since been confirmed by more rigorous economic modeling, show the state’s entrepreneurs need ongoing assistance to fully recover. Download the spotlight.

Public Policy Comments

Analyses and commentary on proposed changes to community economic development regulations.

Community Reinvestment Act Regulations Proposed Rulemaking
Published in February 2020.
The federal government has proposed several changes to the CRA. We argue some changes may cause unintended adverse consequences for community economic development. We recommend several changes to ensure the regulatory intent of the Act is maintained. Additionally, we support several changes related to the treatment of CDFIs and data transparency.  Download the public comment.

The Community Development Financial Institution Program’s Grant Process
Published in May 2019.
As part of its efforts to support community development, the CDFI Program offers financial and technical assistance grants. These grants seek to ensure meaningful economic outcomes at the local level through a rigorous application process. We suggest a framework to achieve the program’s goals in a manner that also helps strengthen the capacity of local community organizations. Download the public comment.

Reforming the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Regulatory Framework
Published in November 2018.
The CRA has been a cornerstone of development finance for over 40 years. Federal regulators have proposed several changes around how banking institutions are assessed and evaluated under this law. We propose several ways to ensure the Act remains an effective mechanism for economic development while also promoting better transparency and accountability. Download the public comment.

 Our Approach

CSBDF’s research and policy analysis program is designed to find innovative and apolitical solutions to the biggest challenges faced by current and aspiring entrepreneurs. For more information about our philosophy, please click here to review the theoretical basis of our three-pronged research agenda.

Research Blog

CSBDF staff publish an occasional blog series, Theory to Practice, which explores the intersection of economic development research and current topics of debate within the practitioner community.

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