Small Business Week (April 30-May 6) is an annual celebration of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
This year, it takes on a new meaning in Southwest Florida
Hurricane Ian dealt a financial blow to the region’s economy, which relies on strong tourism to carry businesses into the offseason. Southwest Florida International Airport has experienced 11 consecutive months of year-over-year declines in total passengers, a streak that began before the hurricane. Additionally, many small businesses tapped into their reserves to make payroll or cover storm-related expenses until insurance payments arrive.
Small businesses especially need our support this summer. It’s up to us to give these businesses – the heartbeat of our community – a little momentum and financial breathing room. We just need to be a little more strategic in our spending habits.
A conscientious, community-wide effort to support small businesses can pay huge dividends for our neighbors, family members and friends who own and operate businesses here. Here are three ways we can help:
It’s estimated that 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays within that community. Shopping at mom-and-pop, locally owned stores is like investing in your own community. Businesses use that revenue to pay wages of employees, who use their paychecks around town at retail stores, restaurants and attractions. Meanwhile, those who shop online through E-commerce websites send money to other communities, states or even foreign countries.
Southwest Florida has a thriving culinary arts scene led by amazingly talented chefs, servers, kitchen staff and ownership groups. High costs might keep these independently owned restaurants off U.S. 41, but a good steak, pasta dish or dessert is always worth the drive. As a community with roots in agriculture, make it a point to purchase and consume locally grown produce. Local fruits and vegetables are fresher, taste better and support Southwest Floridians who make a living in the agriculture industry.
Summer is a time when many families fly to destinations near and far in search of a relaxing vacation. In 2022, though, 5.1 million people flew INTO Southwest Florida for their vacation or business trip. They swam at beaches, fished on lakes, kayaked through bays and hiked along trails. They visited quaint shops, local diners, art festivals and performing arts venues. Locals can do that, too. Save money on flights and hotels with a staycation, and truly enjoy the experience by planning a tourist itinerary full of places you’ve never visited.
As much as Hurricane Ian tried to tear apart our community, it also brought us together in the weeks and months that followed. Sticking together and continuing to support our small businesses shows that no storm, pandemic or another crisis can keep our economy from thriving.
– By Teri Hansen, APR, President and Chief Creative Officer at Priority Marketing