There’s an archetypal American story that says a lot about who we are: an upstart entrepreneur, whether out of desperation or raw ambition, turns a great idea, elbow grease, and an empty garage into a thriving business. Like all mythologies, this story has its basis in reality.
While the humble home-based business holds enormous power in the American psyche, you wouldn’t know this by looking at any given city’s zoning ordinances. As we discover in a forthcoming paper for the American Planning Association’s Economic Development Division, many zoning ordinances continue to regulate home-based businesses to such an extent that entrepreneurs are practically required to keep their business under-the-table. This leaves many home-based businesses in the quasi-legal gray market, at the whim of code enforcers, unable to operate openly, scale up, and become the next Harley Davidson, Disney, or Yankee Candle.
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