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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Small Business Impacts Local Economy

By Linda Cheek, President of Wilkes Chamber of Commerce
Over the past three months, Wilkes Chamber of Commerce held 16 ribbon cuttings celebrating the opening or expansion of small businesses throughout the County.  Ribbon cuttings are an excellent indication of business growth and job creation.   This is evident as you observe the remodeling of supermarkets, opening of new and expanded retail stores, renovated and new dental and doctor offices and urgent care centers.  Many of these business owners are entrepreneurs, venturing into a personally owned business for the first time.  Jobs are being created during this new development, the money flow increases and the sales tax revenue to the county and towns rises.  Supporting small business development and job creation places an even greater emphasis on the Chamber’s “buy local first” campaign.  We encourage all citizens to consider making their purchases, utilizing services, and supporting local business first. 

Small business development is gaining attention across the State of North Carolina.  In the recent North Carolina publication, 2011 State of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Governor Beverly Perdue states the report clearly demonstrates the importance of small businesses in our economy.  Small businesses account for a very large part of our gross state product and provide a substantial number of jobs.  Governor Perdue appointed the state’s first Small Business Commissioner in 2011 reflecting the State’s recognition of the importance and the dynamic role small business plays in job creation.  Perdue has encouraged important tools and resources available to help “small businesses” grow and create jobs.  A leading example is the BIZ BOOST initiative providing direct support and resources of existing to medium-sized businesses, helping them to sustain existing jobs and identify growth opportunities.  Another supportive opportunity is the State’s expanded small business CAPITAL ACCESS PROGRAM, creating $46million available in federal funding.  North Carolina is the first state to launch this program to take advantage of recent federal funding, an initiative to lower the risk of small business lending.  Over the next months the State is expected to deploy allocated federal funds to leverage nearly $800 million in bank lending to small firms.

In 2007 there were an estimated 821,189 small businesses in North Carolina in 2007, indicating 47.9% of North Carolina’s 3,686,552 employees.  The rural workers equaling nearly 95% go to work each day at a small business.  The NC economy and the rural economy are dependent on these small businesses to create jobs and provide stability for rural people, their families and communities.  In fact, small businesses were responsible for creating 70% of new jobs in the state from 1990 to 2000.  The North Carolina Rural Center reports that small business is BIG in rural North Carolina as 95% of all establishments in rural NC employ fewer than 50 people, 80% of these employ fewer than 10 people.  These rural businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, generated $14.5 billion in wages and provided jobs for 614,000 people in 2007.  Small business out performs large businesses in job growth.  While the largest establishments of 100 employers and more were losing jobs, many small businesses were creating and adding to payrolls. 

Small businesses are critical to the survival of rural communities and owners of small businesses are more like to live in the community in which their business is located.  Owners of small businesses bring money and wealth into the community.  Money that is recycled through the community, boasting other local businesses and contributing to the local tax base. 

The North Carolina District Small Business Administration (SBA) office processed 1,221 small business loans totaling almost $312 million in FY 2010 (33% higher than in previous years).  Also in 2010, venture capital investment increased for the first time since 2007. In North Carolina, venture capitalists invested $456.3 million in 57 deals in 2010. 

Wilkes County, with over 2500 established small businesses is known for its “spirit of entrepreneurialism,” is in need of jobs and an improved economy.  Be supportive, buy local, keep your dollars in the county, help retain local sales tax revenue, and most importantly, support local business.  This support can and will lead toward job creation and economic growth for Wilkes County.     

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