by Niles Anderegg, research and content development associate, ICMA
Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, November 25, and it's a good opportunity to talk about how important small businesses are to local economic development. These businesses account for the vast majority of all businesses in the United States. This blog includes how local governments are supporting the small business community.
One way is through educational and youth employment programs and partnerships. The Chicago-based, nonprofit INCubatoredu has been working with public high schools to support practical educational opportunities on entrepreneurship and promote entrepreneurship as a possible career path for students. The city of Edgerton, Kansas, through an award-winning partnership, has created a Learning & Career Center that allows people to gain the skills needed to get a job—not just at large companies but at small businesses as well.
Another way to work with small businesses is to help them through the sometimes complicated process of local regulations and programs. Montgomery County, Maryland, for example, is one of many jurisdictions that has created the role of small business navigator or concierge, which is a staff person specially tasked with helping small businesses get the most out of their experience with county or city government. This help allows businesses to save time and money and also helps them grow, which ultimately helps the place where they are located.
And local governments are working to create environments where such programs as tax abatements and ordinances can be used to keep businesses in communities and allow them to grow and expand, as well as attach new business to the local economy. These strategies have been used successfully in places like McHenry County, Illinois, or Mendota, California, with great success.
Small Business Saturday is a real opportunity to help your community because supporting businesses is an important part of a local government’s economic development strategy.