Chamber champions ‘shop local’ message; it’s an investment in community you call home

Small Business Saturday is coming up on Nov. 26 to celebrate America’s small businesses. Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010, and is now a recognizable day to observe similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Homer Chamber of Commerce is championing this day and the “shop local” message all year.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as up to 500 employees or $7.5 million in average annual receipts. Most of our small businesses range in size from 1-300 employees areawide.

So why is it so important to shop locally and support our area wide businesses? Small businesses strengthen partnerships among neighbors, small business owners and community leaders by fostering social and economic relationships. One of the biggest considerations is that for every $100 spent at a local business, roughly $68 stays in our local economy according to the SBA. That equates to local jobs and sustainability for the local businesses we enjoy frequenting in our community.

Local business owners are more likely to have longevity and invest in our community. Local businesses use local grocery stores, banks, health providers and other support services, recirculating money in our community. Local tax revenues provide funding for road plowing, public safety, schools, parks and our library. Money spent locally also supports sports and recreation programs for everyone to enjoy.

The quality and variety of small businesses accessible in our community is outstanding, and they all contribute to a great place to live and work. Many businesses in Homer are truly unique and offer products and services not found anywhere else in the world. Local businesses offer expert knowledge of the products they are selling and most often a higher-level of personalized service.

Local businesses give back to our community. There can be no doubt that beyond actual dollars being kept within our community, our local businesses are generous in supporting local causes and giving back. But they can only continue to give back if they are successful and we as a community support their business and show our appreciation.

According to the Seattle Good Business Network, small businesses donate 250 percent more than larger businesses to non-profits and community causes.

Local businesses take immense personal pride and commitment in what they do and offer personalized service not offered with an online or catalog experience. It is nice to get to know the owners and staff and they truly appreciate our patronage.

The Small Business Administration identified that there are more than 28.2 million businesses operating in the United States as of March 2014, with about 63 percent of new jobs being created from small businesses between 1993 and mid-2013. Of these 28.2 million businesses, most are “self-employed” — making up about 75 percent of the total businesses in the United States.

So as we go into the holiday season (and all year-round), please keep in mind how important it is to shop local and how those dollars stay in our community and support our overall economy.

The Homer chamber plays a vital role in supporting the local business community and visitors, and organizing quality of life community events. We encourage your involvement in our organization. Our chamber members (businesses of all sizes), chamber board of directors and chamber staff are committed to energizing the local economy. Let the Homer Chamber of Commerce work for you. We look forward to serving you and promoting your business. Contact us at 907-235-7740 or stop by the Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center located at 201 Sterling Highway.

Karen Zak is the executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce.