Small businesses form the cornerstone of local economies.
In larger cities they are important, but in rural areas, they are crucial, not only economically but for the variety of products and services they provide.
To begin with, the economic impact of the small business is sizable. Research shows that for every $100 spent, $68 dollars spent at a small business stays in the local community as opposed to $43 for larger retailers.
Next, they are the typically the job creators for the community. Thus, their economic impact goes beyond the direct dollar impact. It includes jobs and the creation of other businesses that may support another business or want to locate in an area with a strong economy.
Small businesses offer much more to our local economy. Small retailers can provide special services such as offering unique and local items. They also can special order those one-of a kind items. And with today’s shipping options, you can have that item tomorrow.
Small-businesses owners tend to give back to the community in a variety of ways. They usually are key financial supporters of local schools and clubs. Owners often are involved in civic organizations and serve in elected and appointed positions. Small-business owners view their involvement as being a good neighbor.
Local businesses also form a part of a community’s identity. When you hear a community’s name mentioned, you often think about one or two stores you enjoyed the last time you were there. For those communities, the store name is a brand that helps form their identity.
Small businesses are attracted to communities that show local support for such businesses. This relationship builds on the local sense of community.
Having a variety of local businesses builds community and helps all businesses. Small businesses help keep people in town, they form a part of community pride and they make the community a destination.
Strong small businesses and strong communities go hand-in-hand.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.