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  • Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:41 AM | Clark Kepler (Administrator)
    One of the most amazing organizations that I’m supporting on the Peninsula is the Young Dreamer Network in Redwood City.

    YDN is a teen leadership and service learning program that is empowering high-schoolers around the world to be difference-makers in their communities. Through local and international community service projects, and cultural exchanges with Young Dreamers from various countries, teens learn to make a difference in a way that taps into their own gifts and passions.

    Our Indian Young Dreamers live in Jaipur, Rajasthan in, a slum called Ambedkar Nagar. They come from struggling homes and would not be in school were it not for the scholarships provided by YDN. They all attend a top notch private high school in Jaipur. They’re thrilled to have the opportunity to achieve their potential and pursue their dreams. In addition to working hard in school, the Young Dreamers meet every afternoon to receive tutoring lessons, and engage in community service projects on a monthly basis.

    One of these Young Dreamers is Radha, an 8th grader. She is an enthusiastic, engaged young middle school girl in the India Young Dreamer Chapter. She lives in a small room with her parents and 3 siblings. Radha’s family survives under crushing poverty, typically eating just one meal a day. School is her ticket to a brighter future. She is 13 years old, but behaves as if she were the oldest member of the group by setting an example of hard work and deep confidence in herself. She is determined to succeed. This is her third year in the scholarship program. She is hoping for her scholarship to be extended into her high school years.

    If this program inspires you in some way, you can help teens like Radha achieve their dreams of obtaining a quality education and becoming the leaders and change agents their communities so desperately need with a donation of any amount at
  • Tuesday, July 09, 2013 10:36 AM | Clark Kepler (Administrator)
    HTP is one of many regional alliances of independent businesses that works to bring independent businesses together to solve their common challenges and support the movement for local economies. We’ve attracted public support and engaged hundreds of entrepreneurs and community leaders locally.
    But to regenerate local businesses, we'll need more than Buy Local campaigns; we'll need to change public policy. 

    Stacey Mitchell, of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, recently presented her vision Towards a Localist Policy Agenda, stating that "we must break the power that big corporations have over our livelihoods, our democracy, and our environment by shifting economic activity to locally and cooperatively owned enterprises that are accountable to their communities and operating at a sustainable scale."

  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:24 AM | Clark Kepler (Administrator)


    by Clark Kepler is a social gift-giving service that allows people to send their friends egifts to local businesses. It is the only such service that I've seen that really "gets" the needs of both merchants and shoppers. Yiftee allows small brick & mortar businesses to reach their customers where so many of them are making their buying decisions: on their smart phones. Yiftee makes it easy and convenient for people to “buy local”.

    Easy and convenient for people!

    • Yiftee is a fun way to send someone a brief message and gift.
    • Customers go to from their computer, mobile phone, or via the free iPhone and Android apps. They browse gifts by location, merchant name and choose a gift to send to someone via text, email or Facebook post.
    • The recipient opens their Yiftee gift and brings the single use MasterCard on their smartphone to the merchant to redeem the gift.

    Smart for Local Businesses!

    • Yiftee delivers to local merchants the type of technology that the big box chains use, and that they couldn’t afford to develop themselves, for FREE. There are no fees!
    • Reaches a new customer segment: people shopping and buying with smart phones.
    • Increases foot traffic into the store.
    • No technology required to implement other than the merchant’s existing credit card capabilities.
    • Redemption is super easy: Customers have four weeks to redeem their gifts and then they expire and the money is returned to the gift giver’s Yiftee account. Customers will come in and pay with the digital MasterCard on their smartphone. Merchant tenders it was they would a phone order, as a “card not present” transaction, typing in the code, expiration date and anything else the system requires. Merchant is paid by MasterCard.
    • Businesses can employ Yiftee's eGift button on their websites and in their email newsletters allowing their customers to buy egifts for their friends, using Yiftee's back-end technology.
    • Becoming a Featured Merchants takes about two minutes at

    Yiftee was founded and is located in Menlo Park, by local people with a vision to help local businesses. I like that.

  • Saturday, March 23, 2013 11:07 AM | Clark Kepler (Administrator)
    Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act. The Senate said “YES” to e-fairness by a vote of 75 to 24. 

    A bipartisan group of 75 Senators came together to support "main street" local business owners and take an important step towards closing the online sales tax loophole once and for all. This vote marks an enormous victory for America’s small and independent businesses, which have been forced to compete on an un-level playing field for far too long.

    Now that the Senate has voted in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act, it’s time for Congress to act quickly and pass this much-needed legislation so all small businesses can compete fairly with online-only retailers who have enjoyed an unfair price advantage for far too long.

    Read More on Forbes 
  • Wednesday, February 06, 2013 12:23 PM | Clark Kepler (Administrator)

    Nationwide Survey Shows Big Gains for Independent Businesses Served by Groups Like Hometown Peninsula

    The sixth annual post-holiday survey of independent businesses by the Institute for Local Self Reliance yielded powerful evidence that pro-local attitudes are growing and suggests Independent Business Alliances like Hometown Peninsula are yielding direct benefits for their members.

    • The survey tallied responses from 2,377 businesses, all independent and locally-owned, across all 50 states. About half were retailers. Among the notable results:
    • A larger share (65%) of respondents reported revenue growth in 2012 compared to the previous two years (61% in 2011, 54% in 2010)
    • Sixty-eight percent of respondents thought awareness of the benefits of "going local" had increased in the previous year.
    • Independent businesses in communities with an active "buy independent/buy local" campaign run by grassroots groups like Hometown Peninsula saw revenues grow 8.6% in 2012, compared to 3.4% for those in areas without an alliance.

    This data supports our belief that Independent businesses are making huge strides in communicating their value and building community support driving more business to local independents.

    To get involved locally, contact Hometown Peninsula is a member of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), a national network of more than 85 community alliances supporting local entrepreneurs. 

  • Friday, October 19, 2012 4:23 PM | Clark Kepler (Administrator)
    Senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Stacy Mitchell, is reporting that "Two years ago, Bank of America made headlines in nearly every major national news outlet when it announced it would “hire more than 1,000 small business bankers.” It’s been using the hirings to gin up a steady stream of positive local press ever since, most recently in Florida, where newspapers reported last month that Bank of America was adding 130 of these special loan officers."

    Read her article in its entirety at
  • Tuesday, July 17, 2012 8:48 AM | Kepler's Books (Administrator)
    Small business advocate, Scott Hauge of Small Business California, tells us that a bill is working its way through the legislature which would repeal the ability of businesses to take Net Operating Loss deductions. This could be significant to many small businesses and start ups. The bill number is AB2408 by Assemblywoman Skinner. It passed Senate Governance and Finance July 2 on a 5 to 3 vote with one abstention.

    What this means is that a loss in a year could not be carried back to profitable years. Currently in California and US a business can carry forward a loss and carry back losses.

    In these difficult times for small business this is not a time to be adding taxes to employers. What do you think?
  • Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:53 AM | Kepler's Books (Administrator)
    Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with Institute for Local Self Reliance reports in her monthly newsletter, Hometown Advantage Bulletin, that The Dept of Justice is proposing, in effect, to return the e-book market to the sole control of a monopolist. Read her article and what you can do about it: 
  • Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:17 AM | Kepler's Books (Administrator)
    Independent bookstore and founding HTP member, Kepler's is entering the next phase of its project to reinvent the community bookstore.  In the next few months we’ll be making big investments in inventory, technology, team, and renovations.  Many in the community have asked what they can do to help; to fund these investments, we must raise $1 million by the end of summer.  We have already received pledges of over $350,000 from community leaders, Kepler's customers, and arts & culture enthusiasts like you.  Your contribution of $100, $250, or more will help us bring new life to a beloved Peninsula institution and preserve it for our children and future generations. 

    Bookstores build community! When you support Kepler's, you're supporting an award-winning cultural center that makes life on the Peninsula richer.  In just the past six years, Kepler's has put 2 million books in readers’ hands, produced 1,500 author events, raised $200,000 for Peninsula schools and non-profit organizations
    Returned $3 million in sales tax to the community.
  • Friday, February 03, 2012 5:45 PM | Deleted user

    Fast-Food Trucks in the Proposed Downtown Market Place* – A Bad Idea

    If a goal of the Downtown Specific Plan is to revitalize the Downtown, bringing in food-vending trucks for curb-side service is not the way to accomplish this.

    San Mateo and San Francisco have both allowed fast-food trucks in their downtown areas.  The results are in:

    “Downtown San Mateo restaurants say the trucks hurt their business” (Daily Post – Nov. 19-20).  One San Mateo restaurant owner expresses it this way – “Bringing food trucks to downtown San Mateo is the worst disservice you can do for downtown restaurant business owners.”  (And, this is a weekly event, not a daily event, which is what we understand is being proposed in Menlo Park’s El Camino/ Downtown Specific Plan.)

    Similarly, in San Francisco where food trucks are very popular, the headline of a front-page story in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 27, 2011 – “Eating into profits – Restaurateurs losing business want to put brakes on food trucks.”   To read the entire San Francisco Chronicle article click on

    Again, when food trucks began coming to Downtown San Francisco more than once a week, business plummeted at nearby restaurants and restaurants began complaining that the truck phenomenon was eating into their businesses and they wanted a fairer playing field.  An editorial in the Chronicle (Dec. 2, 2011) on the growing threat to the restaurant industry explained it this way – “The owners of traditional restaurants that pay rent or property taxes, provide benefits for employees and tend to have a stake in their neighborhoods . . say that food trucks, swarming into their territory and saddled with almost no overhead, are unfair competition.”

    In addition to the direct economic hit experienced by the restaurants, the nearby retail and service businesses also suffer multiple impacts.  Not only do they lose a critical asset – easy access and convenient parking for their customers in the plazas occupied by the food trucks, but also the spin-off business that thriving restaurants contribute to a business community.  Studies have shown how restaurants have a “corner-stone” effect in sustaining the economic vibrancy of a downtown business district.  The proposed food trucks would have a double whammy, not just on the impacted restaurants, but also on surrounding retail businesses.  Trucks should not infringe on the trade of established tax-paying businesses by taking up needed parking spaces in public plazas.

    The sponsor of our Sunday Farmers Market – the Menlo Park Live Oak Lions Club – has expressed many of these same concerns to our Council and Staff.

    We also question how the City of Menlo Park would take care of the resulting food litter and where the City would locate the porta-potties that would be co-located with the contemplated daily Market Place.

    There is also an environmental cost.  Food trucks contribute issues of air quality.  They generally run continuously on diesel, spewing exhaust into surrounding areas for hours at a time.

    While food trucks have a place in business parks, at construction sites, colleges, and areas not served by restaurants, there appear to be enough serious downsides to locating them in Downtown Menlo Park that our Council and Staff should seriously reconsider this idea. 


    * The Market Place proposed location is behind Wells Fargo Bank and Trader Joe's - Chestnut Street to be closed on south side of Santa Cruz Avenue to create a Paseo connecting to the Market Place

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