2017-06-15 / Business

Small business is our business


Tim Herman — Guest columnist Tim Herman — Guest columnist Small businesses are vitally important to the economic well-being of Flint & Genesee. Our quality of life is also dependent upon a healthy and thriving small-business sector.

According to the Small Business Administration, the small-business sector is growing rapidly. While corporate America has been downsizing, the rate of small business start-ups has grown, and the rate for small business failures has declined.

Here are a few data points to consider:

28 million small businesses in America account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales.

Small businesses provide 55 percent of all U.S. jobs and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.

In Genesee County, small businesses account for more than 45 percent of the private workforce.

Also, locally owned independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors, according to the American Independent Business Alliance.

For each $100 spent at local independents, $45 of secondary local spending is generated, compared to just $14 for a big-box chain.

The re-spending in the local area includes things like payroll, goods and services purchased from area businesses, profits spent locally by owners, and as donations to area charities.

That’s why when Flint was hit with the water emergency, the Flint & Genesee

Chamber of Commerce joined with key partners to rush financial aid to 95 existing small businesses, providing grants totaling nearly $900,000 to address the challenges they faced.

Those are just a portion of the small businesses helped by the Flint & Genesee Chamber emergency grant program. Between January 2016 and June 2017, we’ve assisted 200 small businesses with a variety of services and needs, including loan packaging, counseling, business plan development and talent assistance. The businesses served cover a gamut of sectors – construction, professional services, real estate, restaurants, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and childcare.

Collaboration is also an essential component of what we do with local small businesses. We’re part of the eTEAM, a regional network of more than a dozen entrepreneurial service providers working to connect local entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources to promote growth and success. The eTEAM allows for seamless referrals to local agencies that provide more specialized services.

For instance, nearly 40 percent of the entrepreneurs who have passed through the Chamber’s doors over the past 18 months have gone on to become clients of the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which is housed at Kettering University. Last year, the local SBDC helped to achieve:

16 business starts

106 jobs created or retained

$3.7 million in capital formation, and

$1.1 million sales increases

The bottom line: A strong and diverse small-business sector provides jobs, drives innovation and serves as the economic foundation of a vibrant region. That’ why we will continue to do all that we can to nurture this central part of our economy to ensure that Flint and Genesee County remains open for business, and that we continue to move forward.

Tim Herman is the CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

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