Reflecting on Small Business Week in Wetaskiwin (Oct. 16 to 22), it’s an opportunity both to recognize the impact local businesses have in creating a community we want to call home, and to consider how our choices can make a difference to their success.
Why support local? Consider that 98 per cent of businesses in Canada are micro or small businesses, with fewer than 100 employees, and here in Alberta, 74 per cent of people work for small business.
But beyond creating employment, small, local businesses directly impact the resilience of our community. Of consumer dollars spent with local businesses, more money stays local, to be reinvested in the community, through wages, salaries, municipal taxes and other local business purchases.
“The need to support our local businesses has never been more critical,” says Vern May, City of Wetaskiwin’s Manager of Economic Development. “After the impacts of the pandemic health restrictions that hobbled many ‘mom and pop’ shops, seeing that the community still sees their value and that they have the potential to not just survive, but to thrive in the community where they’re based may weigh heavily in their long-term plans.”
Consider what Wetaskiwin would look like without those businesses – businesses that offer unique opportunities for shopping, dining and local services, not to mention support for our non-profits, youth programs, schools and others.
“In addition to what we already know about the benefits of shopping locally and supporting the continued operation of local shops and services, I believe that there’s another element to this relationship that the public doesn’t always consider,” May says.
“Often when community organizations are fundraising, this is the first time that they’re meeting those local merchants. They walk in with a letter in hand to ask for cash, product or in-kind donation to support their community initiative. Yet, when there are dollars to be spent or prizes to be purchased by those event organizers, they take that business out of town,” May reflects.
“It’s important to remember the relationship with your local merchants as a two-way street. The more you’re a patron of that local store, the more willing they will be to support the causes and events that you (as their customer) are passionate about.”
While we take time in October to salute our many small businesses, it’s important to remember their impact and importance year-round.
“Can we afford to lose more of the homegrown businesses that help to create the charming character of our community?” May asks. “I don’t think so.”