Your Hometown: Small Businesses Are a Backbone

Have you ever been to a small town where they do a yearly “best in business”-type recognition in the local newspaper for businesses that stood out in quality or in their contribution to the community? Now, these awards can definitely breed some feelings of competition amongst local business neighbors, but they can also help to bring the community together through recognizing mutual successes that contribute to the health and growth of the town’s economy. That mom-and-pop shop that’s been around for 40 years? Maybe they deserve recognition for how long they have contributed to the town’s economic stability. The art gallery that features artwork from the local nursing home so they have the funds to reduce costs and improve things like food quality for their residents? Maybe they should be recognized for helping people who have lived in the community their entire life stay in the town they know and love as they grow old. The fact is, about 89% of all businesses in the US have less than 20 employees, and these are the businesses that keep communities healthy; they tend to create over 1 million jobs per year. Almost 20% of all US workers work for small businesses. So how do we recognize and thank these people who work in their local communities for companies whose names have probably never been heard of outside their tri-county area?

How We Can Lift Each Other Up Locally

Awards don’t always have to be about competition or benchmarks; they can also be used as a way to say “Thank you” to a person or a business for the service they’ve given to their community. Recognition in the community through an announcement in the paper is great, but handing a tangible prize to someone, like an art glass award for a local distillery that brought tourism to the area, or an engraved plaque for the local dentist office that stayed open during COVID says something more. This idea even works within a small business; if you only have three or four employees, your daily interactions with them are likely already personal. But giving those three or four employees something like an engraved Christmas gift can make them feel like you value them as a sort of work family. These things might seem symbolic, but recognition that someone can hang on a wall or display on a shelf in their own space, private, professional or public, does a lot for morale and self-worth, of a person or a business. And the more people you have in your community who feel valued, respected and seen, the healthier and more tight-knit your town can become.