On November 30, the nation will celebrate Small Business Saturday; a day set aside to support your local retail shop, restaurant, or other independently-owned small business. We encourage your participation in this year’s event, which falls two days after Thanksgiving and hope you continue to patronize Pennsylvania’s family businesses and Main Street shops throughout the year. There are great reasons to do so, and one of them is making sure more of your hard-earned dollars recirculate through your community.

The event, which began when small businesses were struggling during the recession ten years ago, has now generated $103 billion in economic activity, with last year’s sales hitting a record high of $17.8 billion, according to research by NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) and American Express. A portion of that money goes to pay the wages of the small businesses’ employees--usually your friends, family members, or neighbors. Small businesses create about half of the jobs in our state, and those local workers spend a good portion of that money at other small businesses in the neighborhood where they live—where you live. The tax dollars they pay help support local fire companies, police, schools, and roads.

Of every dollar you spend at your local small business, it is estimated that 67 cents are returned to your community. And the power of businesses with fewer than 100 employees is an economic force that is anything but small, with a GDP totaling $4.8 trillion. That’s on par with the GDP of Japan, the third-largest economy in the world. This is a great reason to support small businesses because they make both the local and national economies churn at a healthy pace.

Small businesses also help people in your neighborhood by giving to local charities, youth teams, first responders, and more. A survey by SCORE says small businesses give 250% more to local causes and non-profits than their larger counterparts. There is no doubt giving back to the community is good for business, but it’s also great for the community.

It’s not all about dollars and cents. Shopping and dining at your locally-owned small business is a way to meet those people who make your community work. The small business owner, who is likely to be there when you drop by, has unique stock on hand, and it frequently comes from a local supply chain. A restauranteur may be buying farm-to-table food from local farmers, and a shop owner purchasing hand-made goods from local artisans. You will find clothing embossed with the name of your town or local team. And the business owner aims to please customers so they can earn repeat business.

As you head out to buy holiday gifts, get your pet groomed, stop for a cup of joe or a sandwich, fill the car up with gas, or get your hair cut for the festivities, consider patronizing a local small business. Those dollars will be very well spent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gordon Denlinger is the state director of NFIB, a small business advocacy organization with 13,000 members in Pennsylvania.

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