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November 29, 2011 > Editorial: Think Local, Shop Local

Editorial: Think Local, Shop Local

A recent national campaign called "Small Business Saturday," urged people to shop locally, patronizing small businesses in their home towns. While many admire those who work diligently as independent business people, few understand that entrepreneurs work long hours often for less money than others who become successful employees. A tough economy has been disastrous for a large part of the nation's workforce, especially small businesses; the price is often paid disproportionately by those who aspire to create their own path of small business commerce.

A common misconception is that small business owners are wealthy and exist in luxurious ease through the labor of employees. While some do reap substantial rewards from their efforts, the majority dwell in a much different reality, far from this accepted "truth." Entrepreneurs shoulder the burden of creating commerce within a confusing myriad of risks, regulations, business pressures, employee concerns and customer relationships... not an easy task. And, there is no guaranteed recipe for success. But small businesses provide opportunities and a sincere interest in the health of their community. After all, a healthy community is the key to their survival. In turn, neighborhood appreciation of their contributions is essential to local prosperity as well.

Government recognition of the contributions of "small business" is limited, often nonexistent beyond local city councils. In the realm of big government and corporate mega-business, even the definition of "small" business is far beyond a local mom and pop enterprise that employs a limited staff, if any, to survive. Financial contracts from many government entities are typically restricted and/or aimed at what would be considered big business by most local entrepreneurs. Federal and State assistance schemes are either too complex or require greater funding than true small businesses require or qualify for.

Real small businesses must fend for themselves, relying on strong neighborhood relationships for existence. This is the authentic American dream, constantly under pressure from larger, corporate interests and regulations that tax even the most astute business owners. It doesn't take long for small businesses to understand that they face tremendous obstacles to be successful. Still, the entrepreneurial spirit lives on and enriches the community around it. The strength of the United States of America depends on small business and its ability to break through social and economic barriers resulting in motivation and innovation, rather than static class control. This is the bedrock of our country.

It is easy for big government and large organizations to overlook the contributions of small business since the big bucks come from larger companies, but these do not form the backbone of a community. Corporate interests often lie elsewhere since stockholders and owners may live far away and exist in different social and economic strata. This is evident in all areas of commerce and highly visible in our industry - the news media - now controlled by a handful of intertwined corporate entities. What is presented as local and independent news organizations often mask monopolies and centralized control. Even information submitted by residents is masked by bylines of others who take little interest in the community, simply reiterate the information with their name attached.

A true symbiotic relationship with a community is formed by those businesses that cater to their local economy, providing attentive, well-run and inviting services for local patrons who, in turn, support their efforts. Both components use their personal resources to create a healthy economy and a community that is safe, pleasant and reflects the will of its inhabitants

It is only through constant vigilance and the pressure of high expectations from both parties that the community thrives. Outside influences that denigrate or degrade the value of our communities create negative impacts and must be made to understand that self-esteem and respect is of paramount importance to the welfare of all citizens. As a small, local business that values our communities - people, places and resources - TCV salutes the efforts and accomplishments of our fellow small businesses. We hope that our readers will understand and support small business within our own communities at all times including the holiday season.

Although successful commerce includes a mixture of large and small services, recognition of the contributions by local small business is of prime importance. TCV, just as other independent, small businesses, relies on the goodwill of those around us and invites public input and support. Remember and support your friends and neighbors during this holiday season and beyond.

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