August is a milestone month for us. This issue marks the 24th anniversary of iBi, and 16 years since I became sole owner of the business. With the odds against that sort of longevity, we should be basking in the glow of these accomplishments, but the reality is, like most small business owners, we’re so busy working, there’s precious little time to celebrate!
Many of the companies highlighted in this issue are also celebrating milestone anniversaries. They’ve become icons of the community. And what is their common thread, the secret of their success? The willingness to adapt, to change with the times, to give their customers what they want.
We often encourage readers to support this region’s small and locally-owned businesses. Why is this so important? It doesn’t hurt to refresh our memories. Here are 10 reasons from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ilsr.org), a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen independent businesses and local economies:
- Local character. In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.
- Community well-being. Locally-owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.
- Local decision-making. Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
- Keeping dollars in the local economy. Compared to chain stores, locally-owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.
- Jobs and wages. Locally-owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains.
- Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship fuels innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
- Public benefits and costs. Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make the most efficient use of public services.
- Environmental sustainability. Local stores help to sustain vibrant, walkable town centers, which are essential to reducing sprawl, habitat loss, and air pollution.
- Competition. A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long term.
- Product diversity. A multitude of businesses, each selecting products based on their interests and the needs of their customers, guarantees a broader range of choices.
Small business owners realize that success requires constant attention, but hopefully, we’re still having fun… and can take a moment to stop and smell the roses. As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Kudos to all of this region’s small businesses! For these reasons and more, we salute you. iBi