Message from the Executive Director
To Our Neighbors and Friends in Columbia County:
Whether it’s stopping by The Warm Ewe in Chatham for a skein of yarn or perusing teas at Verdigris on Hudson’s Warren Street, Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) is asking residents to show their support for local merchants on Small Business Saturday – November 29.
Small Business Saturday, which comes between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, serves as a reminder to shoppers to support the businesses in their own communities. Last year, nearly 70 million people shopped on Small Business Saturday, supporting the thousands of local small businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and help build communities.
These small businesses, roughly 28 million in the United States today, are truly the backbone of the American economy. Representing the great entrepreneurial spirit that the United States is founded upon, small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America, and give millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses have generated 64 percent of net new jobs and have employed more than half of all private sector employees over the past 15 years.
Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all of the employers in the United States, employing more than 56 million people or 57 percent of the private sector employees in the nation. And the money spent stays in the community, according to various business resources. If $100 is spent at a local business, roughly $68 of that remains in the local economy compared to $43 of it staying in the local economy at a large business, according to a Civic Economics Study in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Not only do we encourage residents to support their neighbors, CEDC promotes Small Business Saturday every day – all year long. Since 1995, CEDC has been in the business of helping small businesses. Our staff of business specialists know first-hand the challenges of new business ventures and market expansion. We are the county’s biggest economic cheerleader and we exist so small businesses can thrive, be successful and continue to benefit those who live, shop and work here.
We accomplish this through a full spectrum of programs and services all geared to new business start-ups and existing business retention and expansion.
Through our MicroBusiness Program, CEDC partners with local banks and business experts to bring the best in business advice, technical assistance and lending opportunities.
CEDC’s MicroLoan Program offers loans up to $50,000 with interest at or below market rate to both existing and start-up businesses. Funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, loans may be used for working capital, or to purchase equipment, inventory, supplies or furniture. CEDC gives these small businesses a hand by helping with these low-interest loans they might not otherwise be able to obtain through a traditional bank lending program. Over the last three years, CEDC has provided more than 40 low-interest loans to small businesses throughout the county representing industries such as agribusinesses, hospitality, restaurants, retail and arts and culture.
The popular eight-week MicroBusiness Seminar Series offered by CEDC every fall covers a wide range of topics from bookkeeping basics to writing a business plan. Class size is small and provides an opportunity for participants to network and make business connections. Over 30 people, with varying levels of business experience, have graduated the course in the past three years.
CEDC also provides one-on-one technical assistance, working with business consultants who have expertise in accounting, marketing, computer systems, employee management and other areas. Our consultants act as mentors, providing individualized assistance to MicroBusiness graduates at no charge. Overall, more than 40 small business owners have taken advantage of this technical assistance from the CEDC in the last three years.
In addition, through our on-site business visits and new initiatives, such as our work with the county’s many community economic development committees, CEDC is building valuable relationships with Columbia County business owners every day. And as the county continues to attract and retain entrepreneurs and small businesses, we will continue to be their biggest cheerleader.
Let’s do our part! I encourage you to join me and millions of Americans, in taking the time during the holiday weekend to shop and dine small. Let’s show our local merchants how much we value what they bring to our community. Shopping local keeps revenue in Columbia County where it directly benefits everyone.
On behalf of CEDC, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Small Business Saturday!
Kenneth J. Flood, Executive Director
Columbia Economic Development Corporation