Geri Stengel

 
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How to Keep that Community Character You Love: Support Small Businesses

When you think of your favorite store or restaurant, chances are it’s a local independent, small business. It has charm and character that contribute to the distinctive character of your community. Its customer service is excellent and personal: They know you.

small businesses, shop locally, create jobs, buy localSmall businesses add value for everyone, says the Small Business Administration:

Local independent small businesses tend to be community minded as well. They hire locally and purchase goods and services from other local merchants. Purchase local goods and services and you get the additional benefit of reduced transportation costs and less environmental impact.

“Purchase” is the key word here. In order to thrive, local independent small businesses need your support, not just for the holidays, but all the time.

Don’t just lament the changing character of your community or shake your head woefully as you pass empty storefronts. Buy from local, independent small businesses.

To ensure the success of local businesses (and their communities), two organizations are teaming up to help small businesses spread the word about the importance of buying local -- American Express, the founding partner of Small Business Saturday, and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), a non-profit that helps communities launch and operate buy local campaigns.

AMIBA and American Express will host training events from September 2012 through May 2013 to educate communities about how to launch successful “buy local” campaigns, in other words, how to keep their dollars working nearby. Any community can apply by contacting AMIBA.

“American Express’ collaboration with AMIBA advances a shared goal – to support America’s independent small businesses,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president of American Express OPEN. “Our joint efforts will lead to many new local alliances that will help raise awareness of the value small businesses bring to communities and motivate consumers to ‘shop small’ all year around – including on Small Business Saturday.”

This is an opportunity for businesses, local governing boards, Business Improvement Districts, and citizen’s groups to help their communities thrive. Don’t just talk about saving local stores and character: Take action.