* * * Countdown to Book Expo * * * Economic Impact Analysis Takes Center Stage at ABA Panel Discussion

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On Saturday, May 31, from 10:30 to noon at BookExpo America, the panel "Economic Impact of Locally Owned Businesses" will give attendees the opportunity to see firsthand the results of a study showing the economic impact of chains versus local, independent retailers.

For years, there has been much discussion about the relative value of local merchants and national chains to a community -- but all of it based solely on anecdotal information. Now, the recently published report "Economic Impact Analysis: A Case Study, Local Merchants vs. Chain Retailers" provides rigorous analysis that compares local merchants and national chains and quantifies their respective local economic impacts. The report is the result of important recent work by Civic Economics, an economic analysis and strategic planning consulting firm.

Liveable City, Austin Independent Business Alliance, BookPeople, and Waterloo Records commissioned the "Economic Impact Analysis" after it was learned that a developer that was planning to anchor a development with a Borders Books & Music might receive public funding from the city. The study showed how local merchants contribute significantly more money to the local economy than do retail chains and garnered widespread publicity in the media. In late April, Borders announced that it was pulling out of the proposed development.

This special 90-minute panel (Room 303A/B), which will be moderated by ABA COO Oren Teicher, offers attendees the chance to ask questions of Dan Houston from Civic Economics and to speak with BookPeople's Steve Bercu about how the study was used to oppose the granting of public funds and resources to national retailers. Civic Economics is currently adapting the latest ABACUS data, so that the "Economic Impact Analysis" study will document the contribution to local economies of bookstores of various sizes.

(BTW recently spoke to Bercu. To read the interview, click here.) --Dave Grogan