Every day, week and month brings an observance to mark, albeit some more significant than others. Let’s not debate, for example, the merits of International Talk Like a Pirate Day — which happens to fall on Sept. 19 for those looking forward to shivering their timbers.
Nonetheless, there are two observances worth, well, observing that happen to coincide: National Small Business Week and National Economic Development Week. In a place like the Grand Valley, one thing has everything to do with the other.
Since the initial proclamation from President John Kennedy in 1963, National Small Business Week has drawn attention to the collectively big role of small businesses in the United States.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the federal agency that compiles the statistics, the 30.2 million small businesses in the country account for more than 99 percent of all businesses. Of course, the SBA defines “small” as any business employing fewer than 500 people. Nationwide, small businesses create two out of three net new jobs and employ half of the private sector work force. Small businesses produce close to half of goods and services and account for nearly 98 percent of exporters.
Here in Colorado, 630,000 small businesses employ a total of more than 1.1 million people.
In addition to the strictly economic effects of wages and taxes paid, consider the other important ways in which small businesses and the entrepreneurs who run them contribute to the community. They take on leadership roles in business and philanthropic organizations. They’re steadfast in sharing their time, talents and money for charitable causes. In that sense, every week is small business week.
National Economic Development week was established in 2016 to build awareness of the importance of economic development and economic developers to a community. The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the local observance and won awards for its efforts three years running.
Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, stresses the role of economic development in fostering the healthy business community upon which a healthy community depends.
In the Grand Valley, economic development efforts have focused not so much on recruiting a corporate behemoth like an Amazon, but on attracting smaller businesses while also helping entrepreneurs start new ventures and assisting existing businesses grow their operations. In other words, there’s an important connection between small business and economic development.
Fortunately, there’s been a lot to celebrate. The Grand Junction Economic Partnership recently reported it assisted in relocating seven companies and a total of 57 jobs to the Grand Valley in 2018. The economic development week observance included a grand opening event for Rocky Mountain Rail & Storage, a transloading facility that can transfer shipping containers and other freight between rail cars and trucks. It’s a facility that’s been sought for years by local businesses owners, some of whom have watched their shipments go by on rails and then have to wait for them to come back from Denver on trucks.
By all means, talk like a pirate if you’d like. Meanwhile, devote some consideration to the importance of small businesses and economic development to the Grand Valley.