Saving Main Street: Why State and Local Governments Are Vital for Its Survival

The storefront signs read, “Closed.” Nobody is walking by on the sidewalks. And profits have plummeted or are nonexistent. This is the new norm for Main Street businesses in the era of Covid-19. Since the first stay-at-home orders went into effect, independent small businesses have borne the brunt of the economic hardship brought on by the pandemic.

The nearly 31 million small businesses in the United States are the backbone of the U.S. economy. They make up approximately 44% of economic activity, create almost two-thirds of new jobs and employ almost half of the U.S. workforce, according to the Small Business Administration.

Before Covid-19, small businesses in many places were experiencing a resurgence after decades of economic shifts like globalization, the rise of dominant online marketplaces and the 2008 recession reduced their economic contributions. For example, more women and people of color were starting their own businesses. And new state and local investments were being made in downtown revitalization projects, business improvement districts and resources for new entrepreneurs.