In The Local Economy Solution, author Michael Shuman shows it is possible to reinvent economic development for local and regional economies so they can thrive without relying on costly and wasteful taxpayer subsidies.

Drawing upon examples from across the country and around the world, Shuman introduces more than two dozen examples of what he calls “pollinator” enterprises—self-financing entities that stimulate and strengthen other local businesses and that allow a community to undertake economic development with far greater efficacy and at a substantially lower cost than typical economic-development programs today.

Pollinator business succeed by not only by covering their own costs, but also by:

Increasing the community’s percentage of jobs in locally owned businesses;


  • Expanding the percentage of citizens, particularly smart young adults, prepared to start new businesses;
  • Improving the survival rate of local business start-ups; and,
  • Multiplying the number of local businesses consciously measuring and improving their social performance with respect to workers, stakeholders, and the environment.

The top-down economic development models prevalent in most cities and towns—all dependent on taxpayer subsidies, outside philanthropy, or one-time grants—have proven to be either ineffective, unsustainable, or both. In forward-thinking communities, new initiatives are taking their place, and they’re flourishing.

The Local Economy Solution presents the stories of successful pollinator enterprises that are creatively facilitating neighborhood improvements, business partnerships, entrepreneurship, local purchasing, local banking and investing, and more. Shuman also outlines the kinds of public policy that local leaders can adopt to encourage the spread of pollinator enterprises at virtually no cost, and ensure the long-term economic health of their communities.

Published June 2015.