Using the Web to Find Local
Business and Market Information

By Marcy Phelps

Foreword by Mary Ellen Bates

"This book covers an area of business research that simply hasn’t been addressed before, and it fills an important gap in any researcher’s toolkit."
 - Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services, Inc.

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Links to resources mentioned in Research on Main Street

Chapter Two
Packing the Essentials: Key Resources For Local Business Research

ABYZ News Links (www.abyznewslinks.com): This directory is composed mostly of newspaper websites from around the world, but you’ll also find some broadcast stations, magazines, and press agencies.

American City Business Journals (www.bizjournals.com): American City Business Journals publishes business weekly newspapers in more than 40 cities. Go through this website to search and view free articles.

American Community Survey: See Census Bureau: American Community Survey

American FactFinder: See Census Bureau: American FactFinder

ASAE Gateway to Associations Directory (www.asaecenter.org/Community/Directories/associationsearch.cfm): Find association websites through this directory. Search by topic, geographic location, and geographic scope of the organization.

BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis; www.bea.gov): Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration, the BEA produces what it calls economic accounts—collections of statistics about the performance of the economy.

BEA: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State and Metropolitan Area (www.bea.gov/regional): These economic statistics break down data from the late 1990s forward by industry. Download results in tables, charts, or maps.

BEA: Local Area Personal Income and Employment (www.bea.gov/regional): Current local-area tables include annual estimates for counties, metropolitan areas, and BEA economic areas on such indicators as employment and earnings, personal income, and compensation by industry. Some of the data sets provide statistics dating back to 1969.

BEA: Regional Economic Accounts (www.bea.gov/regional): This page is a compilation of links to all BEA local-level economic accounts, available in interactive tables, charts, and maps. The links will take you to data on regions, states, metropolitan areas, BEA-defined economic areas, and counties.

BEA Regional Fact Sheets (BEARFACTS; www.bea.gov/regional): These quick fact sheets, with tables, graphs, charts, and bulleted lists, compare an area’s personal income and GDP with those of the U.S. as a whole.

BEARFACTS: See BEA Regional Fact Sheets (BEARFACTS)

Bing News (www.bing.com/news): Try this search engine for local news. Follow the Local link and select your location (city, state, or postal code) before running your search.

BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics; www.bls.gov): Visit this federal agency’s website to find data on labor economics, including inflation and prices, employment and unemployment, pay and benefits, spending and time use, and productivity.

BLS: Current Employment Statistics (www.bls.gov/ces): Look for detailed industry data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and more than 400 metropolitan areas and divisions.

BLS: Geographic Guide (www.bls.gov/guide/geography): This handy chart displays geographic coverage for each of the BLS data products. It’s useful to see which resources cover, for example, county data.

BLS: Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment (www.bls.gov/gps): Look here for data about the employed and unemployed, by selected demographic and economic characteristics. BLS currently breaks down these profiles by regions and divisions, 50 states and the District of Columbia, 50 large metropolitan areas, and 17 central cities.

BLS: Local Area Unemployment Statistics (www.bls.gov/lau): This program produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data for geographic regions and divisions, states, counties, metropolitan areas, and many cities by place of residence.

BLS: Overview of BLS Statistics by Geography (www.bls.gov/bls/geography.htm): The BLS lists all its local-level sources on this page. For each resource, the agency provides a link and a brief explanation of topic and geographic coverage.

BLS: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (www.bls.gov/cew): These tables include data for Census regions and divisions, states, counties, metropolitan areas, and many cities by place of employment.

Building Permits: See Census Bureau: Building Permits

CenStats: See Census Bureau: CenStats

Census Bureau (www.census.gov): This government agency collects and distributes information about people, households, and businesses and industries, and several of its products break down the data into small local areas. Visit this site for information about Census programs and links for viewing results.

Census Bureau: American FactFinder (factfinder.census.gov): The principle access point for decennial census data, this site also provides results from several surveys with local-level information: American Community Survey, Population Estimates, Economic Census, and County Business Patterns. Note: American FactFinder has been revised and is now at http://factfinder2.census.gov

Census Bureau: American Community Survey (factfinder.census.gov): This annual survey of 3 million households gathers a variety of demographics, including age, race, income, commute time, home value, and veteran status. Create geographic comparison tables for congressional districts, counties, school districts, and other local areas.

Census Bureau: Building Permits (censtats.census.gov): Try this database for monthly construction statistics (by permit-issuing place and by county) on new privately owned residential housing units authorized by building permits. The Building Permits database includes number of buildings, units, and construction cost.

Census Bureau: CenStats (censtats.census.gov): A portal for Census data, this site includes links to results for County Business Patterns, Building Permits, and USA Counties programs.

Census Bureau: County and City Data Book (www.census.gov/statab/www/ccdb.html): Estimates and rankings for characteristics of people and businesses in all U.S. states, counties, and cities with populations of 25,000 or more are included in this resource. The data is compiled from several government sources.

Census Bureau: County Business Patterns (through American FactFinder; factfinder.census.gov): Through the American FactFinder site, you can view County Business Pattern results for counties and metropolitan/micropolitan statistical areas from 2004 forward. Maps and data tables include the number of establishments, first quarter and annual payroll, and employment.

Census Bureau: County Business Patterns (through CenStats; censtats.census.gov): Through the CensStats portal, you can view employment and earnings down to the ZIP-code level dating back to 1993.

Census Bureau: Economic Census (factfinder.census.gov): Conducted every five years, this Census product offers profiles of local economies. It includes statistics on business establishments (only those businesses with employees) by industry and geographic location.

Census Bureau: Nonemployer Statistics (www.census.gov/econ/nonemployer): This annual data series covers businesses without paid employees, a group excluded from most business statistics. In addition to national-level information, it breaks down data to the state, county, and metropolitan/micropolitan statistical area level.

Census Bureau: Population Estimates (factfinder.census.gov): Based on decennial census data, annual estimates (as of July 1 of the previous year) are released throughout the year in increasing geographic detail. Create customized tables for comparing geographic areas.

Census Bureau: Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE; www.census.gov/did/www/saipe): Visit this site for annual estimates of income and poverty indicators for all states, counties, and school districts. View data in maps and tables.

Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts (quickfacts.census.gov/qfd): These handy profiles include statistics about people, businesses, and geographic locations and can be found by browsing locations, clicking on a map, or selecting the Place Search link. The profiles cover U.S. states, counties, and cities and towns with more than 25,000 people.

Census Bureau: State and Metropolitan Area Data Book (www.census.gov/compendia/smadb): Compiling more than 1,500 data items from a variety of sources, this resource breaks down data for states, counties, and metropolitan and micropolitan areas. This resource covers a wide range of topics related to people and businesses within a geographic area.

Census Bureau: USA Counties (censtats.census.gov): With more than 6,000 data items on the county level, USA Counties is updated every two years. Select handy profiles or individual tables.

Chamber of Commerce Directory (www.chamberofcommerce.com/chambers):Visit this directory to quickly find local chambers Research on Main Street 194 of commerce. These organizations are great resources for finding local-level business information.

County and City Data Book: See Census Bureau: County and City Data Book

County Business Patterns: See Census Bureau: County Business Patterns

Current Employment Statistics: See BLS: Current Employment Statistics

Data.gov (www.data.gov): This federal government portal provides access to data sets generated by the executive branch.

Data.gov: State/Local/Tribal Data Sites (www.data.gov/statedatasites): Through this resource, follow links to state, local, and tribal sites with local-area information. (Note: The site has been redesigned. For local info, now go to www.data.gov, click Topics, and then go to Cities, Counties, or States)

Dialog (www.dialog.com): This fee-based professional database provides advanced searching for finding local content in news, market research reports, and other documents.

Dun & Bradstreet (www.dnb.com): This company compiles information about public and private companies. Information can be found through several sources, and the content varies according to the source.

Economic Census: See Census Bureau: Economic Census

Economic Development Directory (www.ecodevdirectory.com): Use this to find economic development organizations, which offer many resources for finding business and market data and information about local issues.

GovScan (govscan.com): Powered by Google, GovScan searches more than 5,000 city, town, county, and state government websites within all 50 states.

Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment: See BLS: Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment

EveryBlock (www.everyblock.com): At this site, you can filter news to the neighborhood, quadrant, ward, and ZIP-code level.

Facebook (www.facebook.com): Search this site for people, groups, and companies and information about them. Search results for people can be filtered by location.

Feedmap (www.feedmap.net): Find location-based blogs through this directory. Browse the list of worldwide locations or search by city, state, or postal code.

Flickr (www.flickr.com): To find location-based images, go directly to the advanced search page, enter your location, and search by tags.

Fwix (fwix.com): Covering cities and regions in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, this site deals with topics related to business, crime, sports, politics, and environment.

Google Blog Search (blogsearch.google.com): Blogs often contain useful business information and can lead you to local experts. To search by geography, try entering the location name in your keyword search.

Google Maps (maps.google.com): Enter a geographic location in your keyword search to find user-contributed photos and maps. Also look for Place Pages, which are webpages that compile information about businesses, cities, and points of interest throughout the world.

Google News (news.google.com): The advanced search page currently allows you to enter a country or U.S. state in the Source Location box to retrieve articles from that location. Another option is to enter a city, state, or ZIP code in the Location box, which will retrieve articles about a particular location.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State and Metropolitan Area: See BEA: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State and Metropolitan Area

GuideStar (www2.guidestar.org): You can find nonprofit organizations through this directory with its handy location-based searching. This resource includes financial filings for organizations, with details about the group and key personnel.

HelloMetro (www.hellometro.com): Through this site, you will find hyperlocal articles and news. Read reviews and learn about local businesses and events.

HomeTownLocator (www.hometownlocator.com): View profiles for cities, towns, neighborhoods, and subdivisions. Tables and maps compile information from a variety of sources.

Hoover’s (www.hoovers.com): This fee-based resource contains information about companies (public and private), people, and industries.

Idealist.org (www.idealist.org): This website from Action Without Borders provides a summary and links to organizations throughout the world. Advanced searching features help you find relevant organizations by geography.

InOtherNews.us (www.inothernews.us): Add some nonmainstream news sources to your research mix. This site organizes U.S.-based news blogs by state.

LexisNexis (www.lexisnexis.com): This premium, fee-based database includes news, market research reports, company profiles, and other sources. Advanced searching capabilities and specialized content help you quickly drill to the local level.

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com): LinkedIn, a social networking site for business professionals, is an excellent source of information about people and companies. Search profiles, answers, and group pages for geographically based information.

Local Area Unemployment Statistics: See BLS: Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Local Area Personal Income and Employment: See BEA: Local Area Personal Income and Employment

LocalSchoolDirectory.com (www.localschooldirectory.com): Find district and school-level information, including student demographics, rankings, class size, and more.

Localtweeps (www.localtweeps.com): This specialty search tool helps you find Twitter updates by geography. Use this site to find out about local issues, opinions, and resources.

Meetup.com (www.meetup.com): Through this site, you can link with people virtually and meet in person or online. It’s a great way to get to know people and connect with other sources in a particular geographic location.

Morningstar Document Research (documentresearch.morningstar.com): Morningstar Document Research provides subscription-based, full-text searching of SEC filings. The advanced features include geographic searching.

Nearby Tweets (www.nearbytweets.com): Use this site to search Twitter for tweets by topic and location. Look for local sources, news, and opinions.

News and Newspapers Online (library.uncg.edu/news): Visit this site for links to newspapers and broadcast news outlets that offer free access to current, general-interest, and full-text news. (Note: This resource has been redesigned. Now News and Newspapers, the new URL is http://www.lib.utexas.edu/news/ )

Newser (www.newser.com): This site offers a local news index, covering major metropolitan areas.

NewsVoyager (www.newsvoyager.com): At this site, you will find links to daily, weekly, and college newspapers throughout the world.
Nonemployer Statistics: See Census Bureau: Nonemployer Statistics

Outside.in (www.outside.in): This hyperlocal source includes community-level blogs, articles, and other resources. You can search Outside.in by topic and geographic location.

Pipl (pipl.com): Search this people-finding site by name, email address, username, phone, or location.

Placeblogger (www.placeblogger.com): This site helps you find hyperlocal blogs by place-name. (Note: Looks like this site is gone.)

PodcastDirectory.com (www.podcastdirectory.com): Podcasts often provide information that isn’t found in text format, and this site offers searching by major city.

Population Estimates: See Census Bureau: Population Estimates

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages: See BLS: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Radio-Locator (www.radio-locator.com): This collection of links will take you to the webpages and audio streams of private and public radio stations from the U.S. and around the world.

Regional Economic Accounts: See BEA: Regional Economic Accounts

Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE): See Census Bureau: Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC; www.sec.gov): Visit this site to search SEC filings for company-related information.

State Agency Databases (wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases): This resource links to databases available on state websites, many of which contain county, municipal, and even ZIP-code–level data.

State and County QuickFacts: See Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts

State and Local Government on the Net (www.statelocalgov.net): State and local government agencies are an excellent source of local-level business information. Search this directory by location or topic to find links to government agencies on all levels.

State and Metropolitan Area Data Book: See Census Bureau: State and Metropolitan Area Data Book

StreetAdvisor (www.streetadvisor.com): At this site, online forums are organized by state, and people discuss, ask questions about, and share opinions about places.

Technorati (technorati.com): This blog search engine offers no geography-based search options. To find local blogs, try using the geographic name as a keyword.

ThomasNet (www.thomasnet.com): At this site, you will find information about manufacturing and manufacturing supply firms. After searching, you can filter results by geography.

Topix (www.topix.com): Select a U.S. city, state, or ZIP code, and Topix creates a continually updated page with news, events, and other information.

Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory (www.towd.com): Try websites of tourist-related groups for information about local areas. Included are chambers of commerce, government tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, and other groups.

Trulia.com (www.trulia.com): With its focus on local real estate listings, Trulia also devotes a section of its site to ZIP-code–level market statistics and trends.

tweetzi Local (www.tweetzi.com/local): Use this specialized site for searching Twitter updates by location. Find people, local issues-related information, and sources. (Note: tweetzi website currently not working, although it says, "Something new coming soon!")

TwellowHood (www.twellow.com/twellowhood): This site’s geographically based searching helps you find local information about people and issues within a region.

Twitter (twitter.com): Twitter updates offer insights into geography-based issues and opinion and can direct you to local sources.
USA Counties: See Census Bureau: USA Counties

USA.gov: Local Governments (www.usa.gov/Agencies/Local.shtml): This directory from the U.S. government provides links to local governments, community service centers, and associations. It also includes a section that lists additional sources of local-level information.

Wink (wink.com): This free people-search engine gathers information from the web. Search by name, location, email, and phone number.

Yahoo! Finance (www.finance.yahoo.com): Lots of company information in one location, with free but rudimentary SEC search available.

Yahoo! News: Local (news.yahoo.com/local-news): This is the easiest way to get to Yahoo! News’ local content. Select a geographic location, and you’re taken to a webpage with the latest news and video for that place.

Yelp (www.yelp.com): Browse or search for cities and neighborhoods to read reviews of local businesses. You’ll find discussion lists in the Talk section of your location’s webpage.

YouTube (www.youtube.com): YouTube’s site will help you find information in video format. First enter a basic search, and then narrow results by location.

YourEconomy.org (www.youreconomy.org): This specialized site offers excellent information about local economies. It’s especially useful for information about nonemployer firms, which often aren’t covered in other sources.

zapdata.com (www.zapdata.com): Through the free features of this site, you can find company counts and market overviews by geography and industry.

ZoomInfo (www.zoominfo.com): This specialized search engine helps you find information about companies and people that’s been gathered through other websites.
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Marcy quoted in Entrepreneur magazine
Hacking the U.S. Census for Market Research

Marcy's article published in
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Know Before You Grow:
Key Resources for Learning about your Customers and Competitors

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