Typically, right about now we'd be singing about "the most wonderful time of the year". It's an understatement to say that 2020 has had other plans. If you've replaced wonderful with some other choice words, I promise, you're not alone.
I always ask small business owners, "What keeps you up at night?" In the past, they responded that prime concerns are regulations or the ability to retain quality employees. This year, the most common response has been, "How is my business going to survive?" The corona virus has significantly hit our communities' economy.
How can the chamber help? The chamber supports local business by advocating on their behalf and communicating their needs to elected officials. We work with local partners to provide a prepared workforce so that our member businesses have access to qualified employees. We hunt down resources designed to help them succeed in entrepreneurial ventures. We create networking opportunities and facilitate connections.
THIS year, especially, shopping local is what's going to keep small businesses ALIVE. The truth is we can shop and remain safe.
Shopping looks different this year, but most small businesses are still open for business. We can shop safely (masks ON please), support our community, and make a significant difference in our friends' and neighbors' lives. This isn't about politics or your opinion on wearing a mask. This is about preserving what makes our communities special before it's too late.
One study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the community. However, only $43 of $100 spent at a chain retailer remains in the community.
I'll be the first to admit that I shop at the big chain retailers. Many of these businesses employ our friends and neighbors, and they're a vital part of our community. However, let's not forget the local businesses – the ones that support our children's baseball team or theater program, volunteer their time, and give to the non-profits in our community.
According to the small business support organization Independent We Stand, "If every family in the country shifted $10 a month to locally owned, independent businesses instead of national chains, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies."
I have a challenge for you: Shift $50 of your holiday budget this month to a locally owned, independent business. If you don't have $50, shift $25. If you don't feel comfortable going inside, every shop will walk products or gift cards out to your car if you'll only ask.
Post this challenge on social media with the hashtags #50 DollarChallenge, #URCC, and #Supportsmallbusiness. Check in and tag businesses on social media and post pictures to show your support.
Together we can do this. This time next year, no matter where COVID takes us, we'll all be better for it.
Jack Lank, IOM President & CEO The United Regional Chamber of Commerce 310 South Street Plainville, MA 02762 Phone: 508-316-0861 www.unitedregionalchamber.org "People Do Business With People They Know"