The ‘Bigness’ and Personal Appeal of Small Business

July is Independent Retailer Month, and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to visit our local, independently owned retailers. It makes economic sense, adds cohesion to our communities, and boosts our locally owned businesses.

When many Americans think of small businesses, especially those in their town, it’s not difficult to understand what they find appealing. They experience a personal touch, convenience, a helpful attitude and a sense of neighborhood. It adds up to a pleasant experience that saves time and can save money, too.

For example, you might consider the local hardware store instead of automatically running to the local big box retailer. Often the drive is less, the prices are comparable, and the best part is that the owner knows more about the local repair needs, for example, that affect homes more accurately in a given area. So big is big, but local is personal.

This is particularly true of stores in one’s downtown area. When storefronts are alive, it adds a needed vitality to a town, which in turn helps maintain or increase property values.

Nor is buying locally a “soft touch” that feels great but doesn’t affect the larger economic picture. On the contrary, as my headline indicated, small business is BIG business.

You might read names of big companies in the Wall Street Journal, but small business comprises about 99% of all businesses in the United States. It’s worth remembering the power of the dollar when buying locally. For example: 

  • A dollar spent at an independent retailer is usually spent six to 15 times in the community before heading out of town. Just $1 can create $5 to $14 of value in the immediate area.
  • Local retailers reinvest 130% more of their revenues than chain retailers and 676%more of their revenues than Amazon.
  • 57.2% of small firm workers scored in the highest commitment/employee loyalty category, compared with 40.5% of large firm workers.
  • If every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, more than $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy. 

I have always been a staunch supporter of independent businesses. This is why I have sponsored legislation that is small business-friendly.

My efforts include:

Senate Bill No. 855. My bill creates a state business assistance program with procurement goals for socially and economically disadvantaged business enterprises. Business success is about opportunity and fulfilling needs. However, some groups remain on the sidelines for racial, economic or social reasons. In short, an unfair playing field has shortchanged them. The business assistance program establishes an annual goal for state contracting agencies and guidelines for public institutions of higher education in awarding contracts to certified and qualified business enterprises. The program would assist socially and economically disadvantaged businesses in obtaining state government contracts in the following areas: construction, architecture, and engineering; professional services; goods and services; and information technology services. This is not a freebie. Note that I would require “certified and qualified” businesses. This creates more small business competition, which is almost always better for the consumer. 

Senate Bill No. 1447. This bill requires the Business Action Center established in the New Jersey Department of State, in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Chief Diversity Officer, to establish and maintain a program, to be known as the “Biannual Business Matchmaker Initiative.” This would create an event that connects federal, state and local government agencies to provide government contracting services with new, qualified subcontracting vendors. More specifically, it would encourage the participation of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners, the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business in New Jersey.

Senate Bill No. 1807. This bill would waive business formation and registration fees for the establishment of veteran-owned for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations. I’ve said this frequently: Veterans have earned our respect, encouragement, and assistance in transitioning to civilian life. This bill accomplishes that goal for those who wish to become entrepreneurs.

With pleasant weather arriving and added outdoor leisure opportunities, this is the ideal time to visit and patronize your local business in the 7th legislative district. Whether you live in some of our towns with vibrant downtowns such as Burlington City, Bordentown, Moorestown, Rancocas Woods (Mt. Laurel), Palmyra, and Riverside, or any of our towns, support your small business owner. They are our neighbors and friends and deserve our patronage.

That’s my take, what’s yours?