Findings from the State of the Cities Report: What They Mean for Your Small Business

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What are the issues currently facing local communities?

Each year, the National League of Cities (NLC) releases its State of the Cities report, an analysis of mayoral speeches from across the U.S., ranking the top issues discussed by mayors. For business owners, the report can provide insight into national economic and social trends by looking at the local level.

If you’re a business owner, here are the top issues currently facing local communities:

Economic Development

Economic development is top priority for U.S. mayors for the fourth consecutive year. Within economic development, job creation is the most important issue facing administrations. For this reason, 39 percent of mayoral speeches include it as a priority. Small businesses employ nearly half of all U.S. workers, according to the Small Business Administration. This means that attracting and nurturing small and midsized enterprises is vital if cities want to meet their goals. Mayors specifically mention the importance of working with their cities’ businesses to reach their goals. It can be important for small business owners to become an active participant in your area’s Chamber of Commerce.

Business Growth

Attracting new businesses is a major priority for the nation’s mayors. They realize the impact each new employer brings to their cities. To attract those businesses though, mayors realize they must invest in infrastructure, education, housing and amenities. In addition to tax incentives, government officials are now putting plans in place to ensure the local workforce has the skills and education necessary to fulfill employers’ demand.


With 19 states increasing minimum wage for 2017, some businesses are planning upcoming cost increases. Many businesses will be forced to raise prices or cut back in other areas to handle the increase in payroll costs. However, this could be good news for many small businesses that hire workers on salary or a higher hourly wage. As the average minimum wage earner sees a boost in weekly pay, the local economy may see an increase in consumer spending. The report also acknowledges the overall positive sentiment of wages and employment are at levels that have not been since the Great Depression.

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