A Big Thanks to Small Business

Some things can’t be overstated or emphasized enough. One of them is the importance of small business to northwest Michigan’s economy.

As the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce ramps up its annual Small Business Celebration this month – culminating June 5 with the presentation of the 2018 Hagerty Small Business of the Year Award – it’s important to remind everyone why the chamber has celebrated small businesses this way for the past 14 years.

Think about the number of interactions one has every week with a small business. All of us either work for one, or have family and friends who do. You might get your car repaired at a small business or stop at one to fill it with gas. You might grab a cup of coffee, a donut or an ice cream cone at a small business, and eat lunch or dinner there. A small business mows your lawn and plows your driveway, repairs and beautifies your home, and helps you enjoy a night out on the town. A small business may be handling your cyber security or even tracking objects orbiting our planet.

They are also involved in some of the most important and personal aspects of your life – your health, your finances and your legal affairs. Many turn to people at small businesses to get or stay well, to help work through personal or legal problems, care for their children, and plan for the future of themselves and their families. They enlist the help of small businesses for major life decisions like buying or selling a home, helping elderly relatives or friends deal with life changes, or laying someone to eternal rest.

On a personal level, small business owners and workers are your friends and neighbors. They worship beside you in church, cheer along at school events, and enjoy community festivals and parades. On a macro level, they employ tens of thousands of people in the Grand Traverse region, pay millions in personal and business taxes to keep our communities and state running, and donate hundreds of thousands to charitable efforts both at home and beyond. Some of our most impactful charitable events and organizations rely almost exclusively on the support of small businesses.

Small businesses have generated national and even international recognition for our relatively remote corner of Michigan. Our tourism industry – a dynamic mix of mostly small and a few larger operators – continues to generate extensive and invaluable publicity for our region. The amazing growth and recognition of the area’s grape and wine industry is almost exclusively driven by the efforts of small business owners, and our craft beer and beverage sector is following suit. Our growing reputation as a “foodie” destination, and the expanding markets for our agricultural products, is again the product of the drive, vision and ingenuity of our small business sector.  Our small business manufacturers are making and shipping products all over the world, while our growing technology sector is bolstering our connectivity to places near and far and attracting some of the highest paying jobs in the region while enabling every business to accelerate its success.

Small businesses also come and go – a couple of past Small Business Celebration honorees no longer exist or have evolved into other operations. It’s a constant reminder of the risks and rewards of being an entrepreneur and running a small business.

The reality is that our community can never do enough to extol the hard work, dedication – and impact – of our small business sector. The Chamber’s Small Business Celebration is our modest way to say thank you to this diverse, dynamic and dedicated group of men and women who help make our region the special place it is.

Doug Luciani is the CEO of TraverseCONNECT and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at doug@traverseconnect.org.