Do Safer Streets Mean Better Small Business Climate?

This is, generally, an open question. But, I want to put it in a framework.

Today, when reading about a murder committed in a Chinese Restaurant in South West Philly, a qoute from a business proprieter across the way from the restaurant struck me--it was:

"When I moved here a couple years ago, I didn't know" about the violence, said Kone Mori, 45, owner of the Elmwood African Market.

"If I knew that, maybe I wouldn't have opened my store here," he said.

One does not have to be new to Philadelphia to learn that we have a problem with people killing people in this town. 198 murders is a lot and the summer has not even started.

The sheer number aside, a few months ago I wrote that a high crime rate is also bad for business--city wide. Meaning, people would want to leave, not move here, and due to perceptions, businesses would not thrive. I still think that is the case.

But, in looking at communities where people are being killed at a higher frequency, I'd imagine you would see something very similar--underused economic corridors and a lack of small business. For one, this could simply be a matter of economics--private business does not operate for the benefit of everyone, but for the owner(s) (whomever they may be). If there is a lack of disposable income in an area, there is likely to be less in terms of business variety. But, I also believe that crime plays a role in the risk calculation made by a business owner. It probably starts with, whether to pick X or Y as a place to open. This could deal with safety and insurance issues. Whether to stay open after dark, or to put down those ugly gates. Whether to place a bench outside. Whether to close.

All one needs to do is look at the commerical corridors of thriving communities, like Passyunk Ave. or (as some say) Ogontz Ave. and compare it to, say, Woodland Ave. Woodland Ave. is practically closed for business. It is also not the nicest place to be. It wasn't always like that. My Uncle owned a Butcher Shop on Woodland. I remember it as a kid. I remember it when the community was visibily becoming worse off, but was still a good place for business.

On the flip-side, vibrant commerical corridors make communities safer. People walk around, shop, eat and otherwise interact. That is clearly a good thing.

I guess my rambling point is, aside from the horrible personal loss suffered by victims of crime, does high crime equate to a bad small business climate. And, if so, shouldn't we do something about that.

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