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How local businesses give back to their communities

Small businesses are booming. Information from the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs says that small businesses, or firms with fewer than 500 workers, accounted for 99.7 of businesses in 2016, the most recent year for data. Firms with fewer than 100 workers accounted for 98.2 percent of companies. In Canada, 97.9 percent of businesses were small as of 2017, with more than half concentrated in the Ontario and Quebec provinces.

Thanks to their influence and reach, small businesses have the potential to impact local communities in numerous ways.

• Small businesses employ local residents. The Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey indicates companies with fewer than 100 employees employed 69.7 of the population in 2017. According to the SBA's Office of Advocacy, small businesses accounted for 61.8 percent of net new jobs in the United States between 1993 and 2016.

• Small businesses are innovative. The SBA notes that small businesses represent about 96 percent of employer firms in high-patenting manufacturing industries. That suggests that small businesses are full of new ideas.

• Small businesses support local charities. Many local businesses give to charity, particularly local charities. Some donate money while others may offer their professional services or event spaces, each of which can be particularly helpful to local communities.

• Small businesses contribute to community identity. Small businesses contribute to the charm and character of a town or city. Many local businesses make up the fabric of Main Street, and towns are known and loved for the businesses that have endured.

• Small businesses help the environment. Shopping locally means consumers do not have to travel far to get their goods and services. The United States Environmental Protection Agency's research report on walkable downtown centers found small businesses encourage walking and cycling, helping to reduce air pollution from vehicles.

• Small businesses keep money in communities. Local businesses keep disposable income and tax money within their communities. Business tax money remains local and can support schools, roads and municipal services.

Local small businesses are the life force that keeps cities and towns prosperous and humming along. Such establishments help build a sense of community and forge lasting relationships.

Valdosta Daily Times