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RESEARCH ON MAIN STREET

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 Eight
Local Issues

ASAE Gateway to Associations Directory (www.asaecenter.org/Community/Directories/associationsearch.cfm): Visit the websites of local organizations to find information about local issues. Use this resource to find relevant groups by topic or geography.

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (www.astho.org): For information about local health issues, visit this site. Here you will find state statistics plus a directory of links to the websites of state health departments, which often provide local-level data.

BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis; www.bea.gov): To get an idea of a local area’s employment and economic issues, go to the BEA website and click the Regional tab. This page includes several data sets for comparing local-level employment, income, and gross domestic product statistics.

Common Core of Data (nces.ed.gov/ccd): At this site, you can find information about public schools and districts in the U.S. The data reporting features make it easy to compare results for several geographic locations over time.

Community Health Status Indicators (www.communityhealth.hhs.gov): These county profiles include data on leading causes of death, relative health importance, vulnerable populations, preventive services, and other indicators. Each profile includes comparisons to peer counties.

Cyburbia Forums (www.cyburbia.org/forums): This resource, geared toward the urban-planning community, includes online discussion forums covering topics such as urban planning, economic development, sustainability, zoning, and budgeting.

EveryBlock (www.everyblock.com): Visit EveryBlock for neighborhood-level news and discussions for selected U.S. cities. This site is particularly good at offering insights into life in local communities.

Federal, State, & Local Governments (www.census.gov/govs): From the Census Bureau, this site provides information about the financial health of local governments. It includes statistics on government employment and payroll, finances, taxes, libraries, and more.

Google News (news.google.com): To quickly locate local-level news on any topic, head to this site’s advanced search page and search for articles from or about a specific geographic location.

Google News Archive (news.google.com/archivesearch): At this site, you will find news published more than 30 days in the past. The timeline feature is useful for getting historical overviews of local issues.

GuideStar (www2.guidestar.org): Use this search tool to find local nonprofit organizations. The people in these groups can often provide insights into local issues and topics of interest.

HelloMetro (www.hellometro.com): Use this hyperlocal site to find city guides, organized by state, with news, articles, events, and even local tweets.

InOtherNews.us (www.inothernews.us): Search this collection of U.S.-based news blogs, organized by state, for issues-related news from nonmainstream sources.

League of Women Voters (www.lwv.org): This organization is an excellent source for unbiased information about local political issues. Visit the league’s website to find local chapters.

Libweb Library Directory (lists.webjunction.org/libweb): Many library websites include sections with resources covering local issues. This directory includes links to the websites of libraries of all types in 146 countries, organized by location. LibWeb now at www.lib-web.org

LocalSchoolDirectory.com (www.localschooldirectory.com): This specialty site offers detailed information about local schools and districts, including funding, class size, student achievement, and more.

MSNBC.com (www.msnbc.msn.com): From this page, follow the link for Local News and click on any state to view a list of cities with
MSNBC affiliates. For each of the affiliates, you can view news about local issues from the affiliates’ cities and nearby cities.

National Association of Counties (www.naco.org): Obtain county-level information from this organization on a wide range of issues. At this site, you will find statistics, survey results, and publications on a variety of topics, including the environment, energy, land use, public safety, transportation, and more.

News and Newspapers Online (library.uncg.edu/news): This site offers a compilation of links to the websites of newspapers and broadcast news outlets throughout the world. Search these websites for articles with information about the issues and hot topics in a particular geographic location, or look for leads to sources. (Note: This resource has been redesigned. Now News and Newspapers, the new URL is http://www.lib.utexas.edu/news/ )

Omgili (www.omgili.com): Use this search tool to monitor online discussion groups for information about local, issues-related topics. Use keywords and geographic names in your searching.

OneRiot (www.oneriot.com): This specialized site gathers what people are saying on Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites into one convenient place. There’s no advanced searching, so try using location names in your search. (Note: OneRiot is gone)

Outside.in (www.outside.in): Enter an address, a neighborhood, or a city to get to local news and information about local issues, culled from news sites, blogs, and online discussions.

Placeblogger (www.placeblogger.com): Placeblogger will help you find hyperlocal blogs all over the world in order to gain an insider’s view of the politics, lifestyle, and social issues of cities, towns, and neighborhoods. (Note: Placeblogger is gone)

Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org): Visit this resource to get to the websites of local chapters of this national organization. You can look for online resources covering local environmental issues and identify people to call for research help.

Silobreaker (www.silobreaker.com): Enter a city or state and search for news from or about that location. The network page helps you see connections to people, topics, or organizations related to your search.

Sperling’s Best Places (www.bestplaces.net): This well-known site is an excellent resource for learning about a local area’s quality of life and other issues. Search for a U.S. city, town, or ZIP code to find data on demographics, cost of living, housing, school spending, unemployment, religion, and more.

State and Local Government on the Net (www.statelocalgov.net): This directory of links to specific state, regional, county, city, and town governing bodies will help you find insights into a geographic region’s governing processes and jurisdictions.

Stateline.org (www.stateline.org): Visit this site for state-oriented news stories, links to elected officials, state legislative summaries, and state-by-state summaries of various political issues, many of which originate at the local level.

Trulia (www.trulia.com): This real-estate site includes an interesting collection of statistics, housing-market trends, and school and community information.

Twitter (twitter.com): See what local issues people are currently talking about. For location-based searching, use Twitter’s advanced search feature (search.twitter.com).

Uniform Crime Reports (www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm): From the Federal Bureau of Investigation, this site provides crime statistics for regions, states, counties, cities, metropolitan statistical areas, and even individual universities and colleges (organized by state). [NOTE: The new site for UCR data is www.ucrdatatool.gov]

USA.gov: Local Governments: (www.usa.gov/Agencies/Local.shtml): This resource will help you find state, regional, and local governments on the web, which often have statistics, regulatory updates, infrastructure developments, and other information about local issues.

Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com): Follow the Local link, select any U.S. city or ZIP code, and view top news headlines and current events for the region. This provides a nice snapshot of current local issues.
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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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