FeaturesShannon Bond

Small Business Builds Communities, Now Go Out and Support Them!

Illustration of bakery with vibrant colors, cakes, and pastries in the window.

Small businesses make up 99 percent of all companies in the U.S. In Missouri alone, there are 542,700 small businesses, which accounts for 99.4 percent of all businesses in the state. That’s 1.2 million employees, which makes up 45.3 percent of all employment. Are you convinced yet that small businesses matter? These numbers, provided by the Small Business Administration, show these organizations’ financial and employment impact. However, they don’t show us the community value, cultural value, or stability these firms bring to all the towns and cities in Northwest Missouri and beyond. For that, we must step out the front door to experience each location and each town on our own terms.

Small companies aren’t operated by C-suite executives raking in millions. They’re run by our neighbors, friends, and family members. And they are employing our kids, spouses, sisters, and brothers. But we don’t hear about them on national news. Major media reserves those headlines for the big players like Starbucks, Microsoft, and Apple. And we all see the cries for attention by some prominent CEOs as they tweet every thought that comes into their mind (you know who I’m talking about). That’s not what keeps the economy turning and certainly not what builds communities. Small community-building businesses have local flair and are full of grit. It’s not that some large firms don’t contribute to the economy and local communities, they do, but they don’t have the same ear to the ground, the same roots, or the same causes. For example, Walmart, one of the largest companies in the world, is obviously not a small business, but when they are local, it’s plain to see what the company cares about. Suppose we take a trip to Bentonville, Arkansas, to roll down some world-class mountain biking trails (and maybe catch a glimpse of the U.S. mountain biking team). Walmart’s fingerprint is evident with its vibrant community, museum, trails, and thriving downtown.

Like a person, businesses seem to care more when connecting to their local area. As consumers, it’s up to us to help these business owners, these makers, and sellers of things and services, connect to each of our communities. If we don’t spend our dollars locally, these businesses won’t employ our neighbors or fill our towns with originality instead of the cookie-cutter corporate. There is a place for cookie cutter (we all love the big box stores), but there is an equal, if not more important, place for local flavor. And what better time to get out and support our Northwest Missouri communities than spring? The beautiful weather is here, and it’s time to explore. Building communities takes investment, time, and attention from everyone. The investment comes from our patronage (and dollars) and business owners willing to rehab those buildings, invest in people, and build those sidewalks and trails. So join me as we emerge from a winter of reflection into a spring of exploration.


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