Government bodies are responsible for passing laws (Legislative Branch), putting laws into action (Administrative or Executive Branch) and monitoring adherence to laws (Judicial Branch). This is the basic structure for government at any U.S. city, county, state or national level.
Find government websites for any U.S. state, county or city/village/town, or by topic, search the Directory of Official Government Websites.
Understand the unique government structure of any U.S. state by searching the Overview of Structure of Governments from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Government information is, by law, freely accessible and usable to any U.S. citizen (public domain). However, because the government is so large it can be difficult to find information. Here are a few aggregate websites that will help you find particular types of government information:
Information about local businesses can be tricky. Most information produced by the business itself (websites, brochures) is oriented toward marketing. However, the government does require businesses, particularly those publicly traded, to disclose certain types of information (e.g. financials). Third parties may be a more objective source of business information (e.g. newspaper articles, research databases).
Find your local, state, or national Chamber of Commerce. Chamber missions vary, but tend to focus on advocacy for businesses and promoting attractive communities.
Other Helpful Library Subject Guides:
Not-for-profit organizations and community associations are often strong community-shapers. If there is a community organization that deals with your topic area, they will be an invaluable source of information. Find community organizations by searching your city's website, reading local newspaper articles on your topic, or asking your public librarian.