What tools are available for me to do my own market research about an area I am interested in doing business in?Depending on where you are located, your local library can be a fantastic resource. (Or your university's library if your local one is small.) Here in Portland they have an "ask a librarian" service- you can email, chat, text, call, or book an appointment with a research librarian who will help you find the information you need. They also have subscriptions to all of the major databases including some designed specifically for business research.
A few links from their business research page to give you an idea of what's available:
Multcolib Research Picks: Consumer Behavior and Demographics - Multnomah County Library
SRDS: Local Market Audience Analyst (you need a library card to sign in, but library has a subscription so it's free for residents so you don't have to spend $880 bucks!)
Plus, they lend books with such titles as:
The Effective Use of Market Research - Multnomah County Library
The Entrepreneur's Guide to Market Research - Multnomah County Library
Market Research Made Easy - Multnomah County Library
and many others that are industry specific, business stage specific, region specific, etc. Again, ask your librarian for help!
Also check out your local Small Business Development Center Office of Small Business Development Centers. They can often assist you with market research for free or at a relatively nominal cost, depending on the specific programs your branch offers.