Clive Williams

I must admit, at the very outset, that I am embarking on a crusade that is long overdue; I have become your self-appointed spokesperson in SUPPORT OF YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS™. It is my intention to offer support, information, and promotion to assist in the start-up and growth of local businesses. Why am I embarking on this ambitious venture? (In the interest of clarity this is something I have been doing for the last 20 years in my community without fanfare and very definitely, without compensation) I have a vested interest as a local business owner myself and I strongly believe that the more businesses I help to succeed, the more my business will succeed. This is my ethos, riveted by a lifetime of experience interspersed with success and failure in business and professional settings.

It is important for you to understand that, I am forced to embark on this mission because there is an unfortunate dearth of people willing to risk expertise, time and energy in pursuit of helping others. Having held several positions of leadership in my community, while publishing and editing a lifestyle/entertainment tabloid, I get a front row seat to observe the challenges faced by local businesses.

For much too long, politicians, social commentators and business owners themselves have paid lip service to – and lamented the fact that, local businesses are being disrupted by shopping malls, (large and small), as well as big box stores but few, if any have embarked on any tangible and lasting effort to focus on generating support for local business. So it is important at this early stage for me to define my classification of “local business”.

Local business means exactly what it says; in whatever city, town or village you reside, your local business is either that mom and pop grocery store, small pharmacy, liquor store, dry cleaners, local supermarkets, restaurant, clothing store, shoe repair, chiropractor, dentist, doctor’s office pet store, bakery, attorney etc.; whoever owns that local business is deserving of our support, whether they are Black, White, Asians, Hispanic, Jewish, Middle Eastern, South Asians, Muslims or Christian. As random as that may seem that admixture describes accurately the face of local business in New York City and thousands of cities, towns, and villages across the United States.

So why am I encouraging you to support your local businesses?

What’s in it for us? Pretty much everything!

We do so because they are the lifeblood of our communities. They provide us the convenience of obtaining the goods and services we need, on a day to day basis, to satisfy our everyday needs, but even more importantly our local businesses – being part of the larger network of small business throughout the United States are, in fact, the engines of our economy. Let me quote the observations of a business writer who accurately sums up the small business phenomenon. Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle says “when you consider how many small businesses surround you in your everyday lives, it is impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment, and labor these hard-working individuals contribute to make their businesses both come to life and stay alive. Yet, many Americans frequent chain stores without considering their local merchant or other small business options.”

Here is the real impact of local/small businesses on our economy. The Small Business Administration has identified as of 2014, more than 28.2 million businesses operate in the United States and 63% of the new jobs created between 1993 and 2013 were created by small businesses. Of those 28.2 million businesses most are self-employed which makes up three-quarters of the total businesses of the United States.

In recent times, however, some tensions have been developing between communities and small business owners, due to a change in the demographic makeup of many of our new communities of color, especially in big cities and suburbs.  As more small businesses are opened by South Asians, Middle Easterners, Muslims along with its cultural, religious and ethnic nuances, some traditional communities are uncertain and hesitant in patronizing these businesses.

This tension is nothing new as it happened before, when the Italians, Greeks, Irish and Blacks sought to do business in their respective communities. It is incumbent on us the residents and consumers, to support, inform and educate new businesses as to our preferences, likes, and dislikes. A business that does not respond to the needs and demands of its market-place does not deserve a place in the market.

The stark reality is that if we don’t support our local businesses, our vibrant, diverse and beloved communities will go away. Local businesses are valuable assets to the communities they serve as long as communities ensure that they support the businesses that serve their needs. Local businesses provide some powerful benefits to the communities they serve.

They give Communities Identity by providing their own unique character and charm. Local businesses create community involvement, more often than not, business owners live and do business in their community. They increase the tax base of communities as well as provide local jobs and local business start-ups, create an environment for entrepreneurship, innovation, and competition while providing a diversity of products and services.

There used to be a productive dialogue between local businesses and their communities, I aim to restore that dialogue to ensure not just the survival of local businesses, but that our communities survive and thrive as well.

This article is the first in a series of SUPPORT OF YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS™. I am available for consultations, meetings/workshops in support of local business. Call my office at 718 650 3100. I am able to connect you with all the resources you may need. Good luck, and enjoy a healthy and prosperous 2018.

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