From the Desk of CEO, Kathy McCorry
We all know what Issaquah looks like - our favorite places to shop and dine out, where are doctors and dentists are located, where we work, etc. Now, imagine Issaquah without any small businesses. Instantly, it loses everything that makes us unique and charming. Suddenly, it isn't nearly as wonderful to live here is it?
The business community provides character and individuality. It is neighbors helping neighbors ― friends helping friends. However, we are more than that. We benefit Issaquah in many concrete, quantifiable ways.
Businesses have a greater community impact than many realize, and the sum is often greater than the individual parts. We are a community of businesses that impact the local economy greatly, investing in our community through volunteer work, providing local jobs in a sustainable manner, supporting local non-profits that provide assistance to the vulnerable, keeping home and commercial real estate prices strong, investing dollars in our community, supporting our schools, and providing tax dollars to fund city projects.
As we begin recovery in Issaquah it is VITAL that we invest in our local business community. Adding jobs will lessen the need for rental, utility, food, and clothing assistance. Without jobs the need for such services may spiral, taking other services and amenities with it.
The following information taken from the BBBNWP brings to light ways the ways that inextricably link a healthy business economy to a healthy community. One does not exist without the other. In fact, a community is healthy ONLY IF the business economy is healthy.
Business is the backbone of our community. More specifically, if you spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays within our local economy.
1. Create a Unique Community Identity
Locally owned restaurants reflect the fresh foods of different regions. For instance, local farm-to-table establishments showcase fresh vegetables, fruits, and locally raised meats and game. These places lend a distinct character to their communities, showcasing the chef and owner’s unique appreciation for the area. Small local businesses, from shops to professional services, reflect the personality of a town.
Walking down a row of businesses downtown creates an opportunity for visitors to explore the community, getting a sense of its values and identity. From a cozy coffee shop to the banking, legal, and municipal services that are necessary for daily life, walkable local business enclaves invite shoppers to stay longer and interact with their friends and neighbors. A thriving shopping district creates an impression of vitality and wealth, producing a positive impression of the community overall.
2. Greater Community Involvement of Business Owners
Volunteer work, charitable donations, or participating in community festivals and events are all common for business owners. You may see a local car service sponsoring a youth sports team or a group of downtown merchants organizing a community trash pick-up day. 52% of business owners donate to charity, and of those that donate, 90% donate to local causes.
3. Increase Community Economic Health
Local businesses tend to support other local businesses. An area eatery may need cleaning services, legal assistance, or an accountant to reconcile bills and process payroll. Many times, a localized company will deliberately patronize other local businesses to create a thriving local economy. Bolstering sales of their friends and neighbors creates strong community bonds and keeps money in the community, instead of sending it to corporate shareholders. Small business spending creates what’s known as a “multiplier effect,” and it’s vital to creating vibrant, healthy communities.
Shopping local also means creating more jobs in the community. These local workers will spend their money in town, promoting the economic cycle.
4. Promote Environmental Friendliness
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that clusters of small businesses in a walkable area, or near residential areas, may reduce car usage and encourage biking and walking for shoppers. Areas of the city designed for walking and outdoor shopping help reduce emissions from vehicles, improving the air quality. Traffic congestion is lessened, making the streets safer and a better experience for those driving in the community.
Small business owners looking for a storefront can take advantage of older, historic buildings that give a sense of charm and uniqueness to their shop. Additionally, 66.3% of small business owners use recycled materials. Protecting the environmental health of your community is an indirect way that small businesses can improve their towns.
5. Increase Local Tax Base
Local businesses pay local taxes, bolstering the city revenue available for improvements to roads, schools, and area green spaces. When shoppers spend their money locally, the taxes they pay benefit their community and better their own lives. Shopping online, for example, may not keep tax revenue local.
6. Create Local Jobs
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s August 2017 Small Business Quarterly Bulletin, small businesses have created two out of every three net new jobs since 2014, but every local job that’s created means that more people are able to stay employed, need less assistance and become productive members in our community.
Local workers may shop locally, as well, maintaining the cash flow throughout a town. Many people choose to shop and dine near their workplace. Money stays local and the community vibe becomes tight-knit.
7. Encourage Entrepreneurship
Starting a small business means that the owner is taking charge of their future through innovation and prosperity. Other like-minded individuals may follow suit, seeing the success of those around them. In towns where business regulations and tax credits are beneficial to start ups, it’s easier for those with drive and perseverance to succeed.
8. Innovation and Healthy Competition
Many businesses start with a new approach to a common problem, whether by providing services to help others or in developing new products. Innovation is a hallmark of a successful local enterprise, and healthy competition drives the marketplace, improving the goods and services that businesses offer and ultimately benefiting shoppers. In a city’s economy, buyers with choices force business owners to stand out with better service or a better product.
9. Lower Maintenance and Less Need for City Infrastructure
Local shops tend to require less maintenance from a city, as well as fewer public services. Many times, local businesses establish themselves in city centers, using repurposed buildings and taking advantage of existing infrastructure such as street parking and garages, water and sewer lines, and presence on the electrical grid.
Many businesses may also operate out of the owner’s home, at least at the outset. Professional services like tax planning or legal advice may easily be in a professional office space inside the owner’s house. With more and more people working from home this will be extremely impactful moving forward.
10. Diverse Products, Locally Made
One benefit of local businesses is that their products tend to be locally made or selected to suit local tastes. As members of their communities, with plenty of customers eager to give suggestions, smaller boutiques offer more unique wares, clothing, and accessories that are popular with shoppers in the community. These specialty store owners also tend to have more in-depth knowledge of their products and are better able to guide shoppers toward items that will fit well and suit a personal aesthetic.