Small Business Saturday is Nov. 25, 2017. This date serves as a reminder to always shop local and support local small businesses. The Mattoon economy is dependent on small business to thrive and prosper. Small businesses contribute to our local economy by bringing growth and innovation to the community. Small businesses attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas. Larger businesses often benefit from small businesses within the local community, as many large corporations depend on small businesses for the completion of various business functions through outsourcing. Small businesses also invest and volunteer in the community's social service agencies and civic functions. Many small business owners participate in local organizations by sponsoring teams, donating to charities, and participating in community events.

Small businesses also possess the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing economic climates. This is due to the fact that small businesses are often very customer-oriented. Many local customers will remain loyal to their favorite small businesses despite the economic climate. When consumers patronize local small businesses, they are essentially giving money back to their local community. Small businesses work hard to keep as much business local as they can. This means working with and supporting fellow small businesses, using as many local goods as possible, etc. This focus helps stimulate local economies. It also benefits the community as a whole. Local businesses’ success equals more local tax dollars, which helps improve schools, pay for police and fire protection, other local services, and infrastructure improvements.

Small businesses bring a great deal of innovation to any field. Small businesses are usually in direct contact with consumers and the general public. This means they are more attuned to what products and services would best serve the common good. With fewer levels of hierarchy to wade through, small businesses are generally more open to trying out new ideas in a shorter time frame. All of this innovation benefits our community since most of these businesses start from home and grow outward. New products, concepts and processes all got their start here in our community and we need to continue to support this entrepreneurial spirit to propel Mattoon into a strong future.

We want everyone to remember that it is important to shop local and utilize the services of all the area small businesses year-round, even though the focus is on them in November. Small businesses are run by your family, friends and neighbors and their livelihood depends on your support.

Ed Dowd is the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce.

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