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New issues paper: what happens to communities when small businesses close?

Updated: Aug 27

A new issues paper by COSBOA’s strategy manager, John Grace, seeks to explore the community impacts of mass small business closures, and table some potential solutions.





Small businesses are the heart and soul of communities. Not only do they provide essential goods, services and jobs, they contribute to community life through volunteering, through sponsoring and participating in sporting and cultural activities, and more. They also have an important role to play in the social networks of our cities, suburbs, towns, and villages.


Having a variety of small businesses brings life, culture, and character to a place. The unique mix of small businesses along the high street is part of how we distinguish one town from another. The promise of experiencing the products and services of a different, unique set of local shops, restaurants, and other small businesses is part of what draws visitors to a town.


When we support small businesses, we are also supporting community. This is one of COSBOA’s biggest messages. It’s why we do what we do.


The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have made daily survival a struggle for many small businesses. Without the right support, we face the prospect of mass small business closures.


A new issues paper by COSBOA’s strategy manager, John Grace, seeks to explore the impact on communities when small businesses close in large numbers. The paper examines the impacts on economic diversity, ancillary services, local industrial capacity and capability, local supply chains, competition, social cohesion, local employment and training, and more.


The second half of the paper suggests some potential solutions to the problem including strategies to build community awareness, a place-based approach to economic development, helping local small businesses sell online more effectively; and industry clusters and networks.


Read the paper here.