BY BREANNA COLLINS, ENERGIZING ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITIES VISTA, THE HUB
According to the 2017 Small Business Administration report, 98.9% of businesses in West Virginia are locally owned, small businesses. Meaning that the 115,673 businesses throughout WV are owned and operated by our family, friends and neighbors. With numbers like these there’s no doubt that small businesses significantly impact our local economies. In our rural small town communities, chances are we know the individuals who own these businesses on some level, and with the tight knit atmosphere that accompanies our WV communities knowing how to best support our local businesses is of utmost importance.
Community support of local businesses comes in many different forms, from individuals to community groups, organizations and local government showing support. According to the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, local Chambers of Commerce, area CVB groups, local government and organizations can show support by recognizing and celebrating people who create and grow local businesses, develop programs to encourage and support entrepreneurs to develop and grow, as well as creating a space for trainings, networking and mentoring opportunities for these business owners.
Community support seems to look different according to individual entrepreneurs and their industries of service. Tom Hart, owner and operator of Taylor County campground Hartland Lake Marie, says that “community support is more than just spending money in a business, it’s showing a genuine concern for what and how a business is doing.” Grafton community member Barb Alvarez defined community support for small businesses as “Being a supporter of goods from small business and not seeking out corporations for your needs or services.” To Donna Hart, owner and operator of Arts and Treasures and Espresso Yourself Coffee House, community support means a coming together of business owner stating that, “Businesses need to support each other regardless of competition or similarities.” Owner and operator of Just a Mere Cottage Barbra White says community support means encouragement. Melissa Garvin owner of Melissa G. Massage Therapy says “It’s being respectful of professional time and taking advantage of discounts and specials offered.”
With small businesses having such an impact on our local economies we can see why the support of local establishments is so important. While financial support and regular frequenting of these local ventures is substantial to their success, there are many ways we can offer support and encouragement to our local business owners. The success and growth of these businesses is imperative to the success and growth of our communities.