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This question dovetails with this post on geomarketing applications.

I am familiar with some of larger, paid-for business registry's like InfoUSA and Dunn & Bradstreet. While the detailed information their business listings database include (like # of employees, annual sales, industry code, etc) is fantastic, if you are on a limited budget, sometimes the cost of purchasing the data outweighs the value you can get from it. If you have geocoding capabilities in house, one could potentially create a reasonable surrogate by spatially-enabling (geocoding) a publicly available business listing on your own.

If you were looking to take on this type of project, where would you start your research? Do you know of US agencies at a State or National level that maintain this type of information, AND are publicly available for download or minimal purchase?

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I haven't used it (I would like to some time), but the esri business analyst extension has infousa included and quite a few other goodies. esri.com/software/businessanalyst/comparison-table.html –  Brad Nesom Dec 27 '10 at 22:10
    
Brad, I agree that the Business Analyst data is great (I have used it before), but only for those who can afford to purchase it ($5k-$20k) because it does have very detailed data, but I am looking for alternatives that one can harvest and geocode on their own for (hopefully) much less of an investment. –  RyanDalton Dec 27 '10 at 23:41
    
BUSINESS USA BUSINESS DIRECTORY 0.03 cents a record and $250 min order. Looks a bit different from the others. –  Brad Nesom Dec 28 '10 at 16:06
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If you are in an academic institution ESRI Business Analyst is very affordable. It costs approximately $3000, but it has full US coverage based on the Dunn & Bradstreet data, and is geocoded. It is also available for specific years.

The downside is that the licensing is ridiculously complicated and restrictive (so much so that despite having the money to pay for it, my university refused to purchase it) and you can only install one 'instance' per machine.

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just saw the comments discussing Business Analyst now.... nevermind! –  djq Jan 3 '11 at 11:20
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In doing some additional research for sources in my state (Oregon) and found that the Secretary of State Corporation Division sells an extract for $500. I figure this is just one possible source that resides out there somewhere and there are more than likely other similar options from various government organizations.

Update: This article talks about likely options for all states in the US. "All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online. In a few instances only limited information (such as name availability) is retrievable. The majority of the states, however, use their Web presence to disseminate a range of public business records -- and most of them offer access at no charge."

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