The holidays are here which means the push to shop local and support small businesses is ever strong. What's all the fuss? Why does it matter if we celebrate and support our small business community?
Small businesses make up the heart of our economy, making up over 60% of net new jobs. Think about all the times you have interacted with a local small business – getting your hair cut, calling a plumber, picking up a unique gift, eating at a local restaurant. These businesses represent a family you may know, an employer who provides jobs, and a vital piece of the economy that supports all of us.
The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Waubonsee Community College is a grant-funded program that supports entrepreneurs and small business owners in our local community. We are a no-cost resource to help entrepreneurs with an idea, owners ready to retire or sell their business, and everyone in between. We are one in a network of SBDC's across the country who are dedicated to helping our small business community stay strong.
In March 2020, the Small Business Administration named the SBDC a front-line resource for small businesses needing help to survive. We fielded calls and emails from over 1,500 local small business owners seeking help in the first three months of the pandemic.
One thing you should know about small business owners – they are nothing if not resilient. While many struggled, most are coming out of the pandemic and growing stronger. In 2021, the SBDC at Waubonsee helped local small businesses create over 130 new jobs and obtain over $5M in financing for growth. We helped four clients transfer their business to new owners (employees and family members).
We feel their pain when they struggle and we celebrate every client's success just like parents celebrate their kids' success. Many have been SBDC clients for years. We cheered when client Energy City Brewing (Batavia) was named one of the top 34 craft breweries in the US. We bragged when client Chrissy Sommers, Stay + Play Local owner, was named one of Forbes 1000 Entrepreneurs to watch. We celebrate with our clients when they cut the ribbon to announce the opening of another local small business.
Small business owners work incredibly hard. You can change lives by supporting them. We know it's a cliché, but “Shop local” is more than just a catchy saying. It's the lifeblood of our local community. The Illinois SBDC is proud to be part of a Community College that supports its small business community. This holiday season, we hope you will help your local community thrive by supporting small businesses.