Bloomberg Businessweek

Saving Main Street

Formula-business restrictions have helped independent shops across the U.S. survive

Like many elected officials, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop talks a lot about the need to support small businesses. Unlike many, he’s put policies in place to help owners survive rent hikes, secure low-interest loans, and get expedited business permits. More than 600 small businesses have opened since Fulop became mayor of New Jersey’s second-biggest city in 2013. “We’re seeing a renaissance,” he says.

The mayor’s best-known effort is a zoning ordinance that prevents formula businesses—city planner jargon for chains with standardized stores such as Starbucks Corp. and Target Corp.—from occupying more than 30 percent of the ground floor of commercial areas of buildings. The

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