A Publication of WTVP

Nearly 55 percent of all of the people in our country who work in the private sector are employed by a small business. On average, small business creates two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S. each year. Every big business we know of today started out as a small business. Small businesses truly are the backbone of a community.

Without small business members, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and many others wouldn’t exist. In our membership, 73 percent employ 25 or fewer people, and 28 percent employ four or fewer. Central Illinois is rich with successful small businesses in nearly every industry sector. These businesses provide our large employers with goods and services. They feed and clothe the residents of our region and provide us with medical care. They take care of our children, help us solve our legal problems, and so much more.

The current economic climate has been just as challenging-perhaps at times, even more challenging-for small businesses as it was for larger businesses in our region. Many central Illinois small business owners say they anticipated the economic downturn and prepared for it. They tightened up, looked for niches that would weather the recession well, aggressively sought out new business, and continue to focus on customer service.

The most common responses I hear when I ask our members, “How’s business?” are: “stable,” “holding our own,” “down some, but making it” and “surprisingly, doing well.” This doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax. We must maintain a culture that is conducive for small business to succeed. The most obvious way to do that is to do business with them when you have the opportunity. While we pride ourselves on helping the local guy, keep in mind that chain stores, franchises and other similar business configurations function like small businesses, too. They hire local people, support local vendors and contribute to our community as well.

So when you run that errand this weekend or stop at a restaurant for lunch, remember to thank the small business owner or manager who is satisfying your needs. Small companies are a critical part of our business mix and important contributors to the quality of life here in central Illinois. iBi