Because I Said So: Small Business and Nanny Politicians

Entrepreneurs sometimes need to be wary of local government.


Any small business that serves a specialized market is going to have to face this reality: no matter how successful the business, some people in its city or town are simply not going to like its products. That's fine. You can't be everything to everyone. But what happens when some of those people who turn their noses up at your business get elected to city council? Be worried. Here's a story coming out of Milan:

Diners hungry for Chinese carry-out or Middle Eastern kebabs in Italy could have their choices limited under a regional law proposed by the anti-immigrant Northern League on Thursday.

The League called for the Lombardy regional council to allow cities to bar from their historic centers businesses that are "incompatible with the historical context."

But in the United States, we would never apply such arbitrary restrictions on entrepreneurs, right? Not exactly. One recent example comes from Miami Beach, Fla., where the city council decided to ban sidewalk displays of food in front of restaurants simply because the city manager thought it looked "tacky."

That's not quite as odious as the Italian example because it lacks the anti-immigrant sentiment. Are there any examples of American municipalities coming down on immigrant entrepreneurs because they don't think they fit their town's "historical context"?

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