Supporting Small Businesses Offers Big Success in Washington County

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

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Promotions supporting small businesses are becoming more commonplace, from social media platforms to vibrant main streets. But why is getting the word out about these dynamic enterprises necessary?

Small independent retailers are more intertwined with and dedicated to their local towns and cities than chain competitors. A recent study by the University of Minnesota - Duluth included research from the American Independent Business Alliance, which indicated 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses gets recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores.

In Washington County, money spent at small businesses helps lower taxes, create jobs and foster a strong sense of community. 

“A strong business community leads to a more healthy overall community,” said Laurie Staiger, President and CEO of the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce. “Their support of the things that matter to our community - like local athletic teams, arts, programming and recreation - are creating a better quality of life for residents.”

Small business importance

American Express organized Small Business Saturday in 2010 to highlight the importance of small businesses to local economies. This year, Small Business Saturday is November 26 and is the perfect time for residents and visitors to familiarize themselves with the entrepreneurs who bring their products and services to benefit customers all year long. While holiday shopping helps small businesses, it is an excellent opportunity to develop a year-round recognition of their significance. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy reported 33.2 million small businesses in the country are employing 46.4% of the private workforce. For Minnesota, the number is 534,397 small businesses and 1.3 million employees, or 46% of the state's total. Small businesses are critical as primary players in a community’s employment base. The Office of Advocacy reports small businesses have accounted for 62% of net new job creation since 1995. Most hire employees who live close to their operations, so job creation is an incredible boost to local economies.

Vibrant communities

Washington County residents are fortunate to have so many vibrant communities in a relatively small area, complete with shops and service providers run by local entrepreneurs that are as diverse as the mindsets of these economic leaders. Staiger said Woodbury is a perfect reflection of that demographic.

“Residents of Woodbury often joke that we have everything we need right here and have no reason to leave Woodbury,” she said. “The diversity of products, services, restaurants and things to do gives the community countless resources and options for everything we need for a high quality of life.”

Focusing on small businesses does not require thought to be limited to small ideas. Steve Dennis displays that mindset as an integral part of the Cottage Grove community as owner of Dennis Brothers Liquors, a Cottage Grove City Council member and vice-president of the Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority. He and other city representatives bring a customized booth to area and national events each year, such as the annual Innovating Commerce Serving Communities Convention in Las Vegas and its nearly 40,000 attendees.

“You find the decision-makers around land acquisition, retail and commercial development and franchise prospects at these events,” said Dennis. “It is one way we heavily promote Cottage Grove’s possibilities to keep it on the map.”

Support local during the holidays

Beginning with Small Business Saturday, many Washington County communities are promoting their small businesses throughout the holiday season. To find more holiday shopping information on all our communities, try the Washington County Community Development Agency website

The Afton Area Business Association has a comprehensive list of the shops, restaurants and other businesses owned and run by local residents.

Cottage Grove has plenty of shopping opportunities in the southern portion of Washington County, many of which can be found at Discover Cottage Grove. “These small businesses are the heartbeat of our community,” said Laurie Levine, President and CEO of the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce.

Stillwater decorates Main Street every holiday season, lighting over 100 locally-owned shops and galleries. Its Hometown for the Holidays event has numerous sponsored events, including Plaid Friday, Shop Small Saturday, caroling tours and a LED Light Show.

Resources for small businesses

A new U.S. SBA program will provide $97.5 million in financial assistance for Minnesota small businesses through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Before the end of 2022, the SBA will launch six Treasury-approved programs for small businesses to access funding through approved financial institutions. 

The SBA has also announced a new online Small Business Hub to help entrepreneurs start and grow their small businesses. The Hub offers resources and expertise for small business owners seeking to create an enterprise in Minnesota.

SizeUp Small Businesses is an excellent resource for finding area businesses, suppliers and more. The Shop Local feature enables clients to search for and explore local businesses by industry or name while promoting customers doing business with local companies. The overall Washington County economy benefits from local business spending creating a higher economic impact on the community and local governments.

Is there a small business nearby you believe is an integral part of your community? The SBA is taking nominations for the 2023 National Small Business Week Awards, which recognize the achievements and contributions of SBA-assisted small businesses to their communities. Nominations are required by December 8. 
Washington County Community Development Agency is proud to help small businesses and consumers throughout Washington County. Contact us here to learn more about how we can help during the holidays.

Category: News