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Guest column/Shop local ­— support heroes on Main Street

Small businesses play a critical role in improving our everyday lives — creating jobs, products and services, and serving as launchpads for new industries as they scale — and the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced their importance for our communities and Main Street economies.

The pandemic also further illustrated their resilience, ability to be nimble and ability to adjust to the changing environment.

Some had to adapt to online sales and scheduling deliveries. Others had to determine how to alter the work environment so they could continue to manufacture products and keep employees safe. And still others innovated and developed new ways to operate to continue to meet customer needs.

As President Joe Biden stated in his November National Entrepreneurship Month proclamation, “small businesses are the engines of our economic progress — and the heart and soul of our communities.” It’s why the U.S. Small Business Administration, the nation’s voice for the more than 32.5 million small businesses in the country, underscores the importance of shopping small during the holidays.

For more than 10 years, Small Business Saturday has been a shopping tradition after the Thanksgiving holiday — a tradition that makes an impact in our neighborhoods and supports local businesses that create two of every three jobs, boost the economy and enliven communities.

Here in Ohio, our 982,035 small businesses employ 2.2 million workers, and contribute to the local tax base. Last year, during Small Business Saturday the American consumer spent almost $20 billion on local businesses nationwide. This year we expect that figure to be in excess of $20 billion.

Business owners can tap the SBA for helpful advice and to prepare for the holiday season at www.sba.gov/saturday. And, for all, while the holidays still will look different this year, I ask you to celebrate small businesses in these three ways to support these economic heroes of our Main Street economies:

≤ Go on an adventure, travel outside your comfort zone — and away from your computer — to a Main Street shopping district to shop and dine small.

≤ Purchase at least one item from a local small business. Get to know the owner and make your gift more meaningful by sharing their story as part of the gift you give.

≤ Share your unique finds on social media and encourage others to shop small, too.

Your efforts will fuel small businesses, support your local community, create jobs and give back to the community. I also, encourage these entrepreneurs or those looking to start a business in 2022 to connect with the District SBA office here in Northern Ohio.

I can be reached by e-mail at gilbert.goldberg@sba.gov. Follow us on Twitter @SBA–Cleveland for updates on SBA’s efforts to help small businesses start, grow and expand

(Goldberg is the director of the SBA Northern Ohio District, which covers 28 counties, including Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll and Columbiana.)

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