Jeff  Carter

In Chicago, city government regulates the hell out of them. Alderman and city inspectors walk around with hands out, palms up. It’s very expensive and time consuming to start up a business in just about any industry. A friend of mine started a pie business, deliberately outside the city to avoid regulation. The problem is, many uneducated, uncredentialed people can’t do a technical start up and don’t have the skills to work at a Fortune 500 firm. Their only option is to set up a business where they might have the skill to execute. It might be a hair braiding or nail salon, a donut shop, sandwich shop-or making artisan food.

The children of those sole proprietors get a better shot at life. They witness their parent running a business. They aren’t on the government dole. They might go to college. They might become the next wave of start up activity. Consider what the Lender’s did for bagels.

It’s bad enough the FDA regulates the food industry incorrectly in many cases. We have our own version of the local FDA. Instead of experiencing a food renaissance like other cities, Chicago engages in protectionism for existing businesses.

Try opening up a hardware shop in the city. There is paperwork to file, licenses to buy, building inspectors to pay off, signage approval and the “correct” company has to erect your sign, buying insurance from the “right” agent, and getting approval from the local alderman to set up shop in their ward. That’s before you buy equipment and inventory and hire employees. It’s the “piece de resistance” of machine politics.

Hey, the nation voted for it in 2008. I knew what you were getting.

Typically, midwesterners wonder why the coasts have a lot of start up activity. Silicon Valley outpaces the rest of the country in start up investment by a lot. There is a lot of activity there, but it’s gently coming to the midwest and transforming our communities.

Instead, we Chicagoans gaze at the coasts and our mouths water at the things going on. “The rise of artisanal food like small-batch pickles, basement-cured charcuterie and hand-churned ice cream has been a boon to Brooklyn’s image.”, the NY Times article begins. I hope they have mail order.

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Jeff Carter

Jeffrey Carter is an independent speculator. He has been trading since 1988. His blog site, Points and Figures was named by Minyanville as one of The 20 Most Influential Blogs in Financial Media.