Small business is the backbone of our economy, employing nearly half of all private sector employees and creating 64 percent of all new jobs. In this economy, small businesses have struggled and they need our support. We can do our part to help this economic engine. Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for us to recognize the local businesses and neighborhood retailers and the importance they play in our communities. Small Business Saturday has joined Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the post-Thanksgiving shopping blitz. According to the National Retail Federation, 247 million shoppers spent more than $59 billion on purchases during Thanksgiving weekend last year. The advantage of Small Business Saturday is that money is spent at locally-owned small businesses. As a cosponsor of the Senate resolution that supports Small Business Saturday and recognizes the importance local businesses and neighborhood retailers play in the community, I also am working to create a climate that encourages growth for our small businesses. As a former small business owner, I recognize the difficulty these businesses have to plan for future growth and investment with rising health care costs, food costs and uncertainty over energy costs. At a time when the Arkansas unemployment rate is more than seven percent with an increasing percentage of people who are underemployed, small businesses have the greatest potential to reverse this economic outlook and put people back to work. We need pro-growth policies to make that happen. The best way to address these challenges is to put in place pro-growth policies that will finally jumpstart the economy for small businesses. Measures like increasing production of American energy, expanding our exports, investing in our infrastructure and comprehensive reform of our tax code to spur growth are good starting points.
While the majority of Americans recognize the importance of small businesses, their success depends on customers. Money spent in our small businesses gets reinvested, draws attention to local merchants and could ultimately lead to more new jobs. By taking the small step of shopping locally this holiday season, we can make a big impact on our communities.
This week as we gather with our family and friends to give thanks and count our blessings and enjoy the holiday we should also give thanks for our small businesses and the men and women whose innovations, ideas and hard work drive the economy. Small Business Saturday is gaining momentum. Previous years have been a big success, thanks in large part to the increased awareness about the impact of small business on our economy. Let’s do our part to help development in our communities by shopping at locally owned retailers.