March 28, 2014

Editorial: Appreciate our small businesses

Many years ago, if you wanted milk, you walked to the corner grocery store to make the purchase.

If you were making repairs at home, you stopped in the local hardware store for supplies.

And if you wanted insurance, you didn’t look on a computer; you visited an insurance agent’s office in town.

These “mom and pop” businesses were the retail stalwarts in neighborhoods around the area. But they have been overtaken by national enterprises and aren’t a big economic factor anymore, right?

Actually, that widespread belief is very wrong. Small businesses are still the fuel that energizes our economy. But while major retailers draw the attention with their big-budget marketing, small businesses chug along steadily, usually unnoticed and underappreciated.

In tomorrow’s Press-Republican, you will see ads featuring some of the North Country’s small businesses, because Saturday has been designated as National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. You might take a few minutes to consider the worth of these businesses in your life.

We asked Sue Matton, vice president for economic development for the North Country Chamber of Commerce, how many members of their organization would be considered small businesses. The ever-growing chamber comprises 4,210 member businesses at this time, and Matton said 81.2 percent of them employ 10 or fewer people.

Nationally, small businesses are the source of most of the growth in hiring and revenue. The national blog Smiley, which features business-related news, cites a Washington Post article that said the last two months of 2013 saw “the largest gain for small firms since early 2012 and the second consecutive month that they have outpaced their larger counterparts.”

Smiley suggests that small businesses promote their assets for this day, much the way they do on the more widely known Small-Business Saturday, which is celebrated the day after the “Black Friday” blitz that follows Thanksgiving.

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