This story about the “cash mob” that took place in Chagrin Falls, Ohio really hit home with me. Small family businesses, like the Chagrin Hardware store, are what America is all about. Here’s what happened in Chagrin Falls–A resident sent out an email to 40 friends asking them to spend at least $20 on January 21st in the local hardware store that has been in business since 1857. The email was sent and resent, resulting in a wonderful outpouring of support and purchases from the community. People from out of town were even phoning in orders. I have a local hardware store here in St. Clair Shores that I have frequented for many, many years. It’s called Gilberts Pro Hardware. Blair Gilbert now owns and runs the company, he is a 3rd generation hardwareman. Blair has worked very hard to grow the business and according to his website he tripled the size of the business in 1999. Today he continues to offer customers the “small business” feeling, providing how-to information and help and advice on projects, not just when you see him in the store, but also online. His website is called mrhardware.com and it features videos and how-to articles on all sorts of home improvement or home repair projects. I’m a do-it-yourselfer but I don’t always have all the answers. Just recently he helped me find a lightbulb adapter to make a modern lightbulb fit into a much older lighting fixture. Who knew something like that existed! Anyway, President Obama didn’t really address how important small business is to the future economic success of America in his State of the Union address but we all know that small business is the engine that runs America. Since he didn’t mention it, let me restate the facts:
How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy? Small firms:
• Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
• Employ about half of all private sector employees.
• Pay 43 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
• Have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.
• Create more than half of the nonfarm private GDP.
• Hire 43 percent of high tech workers (scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and others).
• Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
• Made up 97.5 percent of all identified exporters and produced 31 percent of export value in FY 2008.
• Produce 16.5 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.
Thank you small businesses out there! Here’s hoping that political change in 2012 will make it easier than ever for you to do business.