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Posted on November 5, 2018 at 12:04 PM by Whitney Slightham
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 32nd annual small business awards presented by the Roanoke Regional Chamber. The event brought together around 500 business and community leaders to celebrate the vibrancy that small businesses bring to our local economy. More than 80 local businesses and nonprofits were lauded for their contributions to our local community.
Did you know that 1.5 million people in Virginia are employed in nearly 724,000 small businesses? Of those businesses, nearly 185,000 are minority-owned, adding strength to the diversity of our state economy. Here in Roanoke, our small businesses contribute not only to employment and tax revenue—which they do in a big way—but also to the uniqueness and quality of life in our region. Think about how much more livable Roanoke is with the likes of Blue Cow Ice Cream Company, Local Roots, Big Lick Brewing Company, and others. Likewise, our local small businesses and non-profits address the needs of our community either through direct services, as is the case with Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia, Apple Ridge Farms, and Blue Ridge Literacy, or though their charitable contributions and support of education, arts, and culture.
Here to Stay and Creating New Opportunities
Many of our small businesses and non-profits have also exhibited an amazing staying power by weathering economic downturns.. Magic City Ford (1938), Lionberger Construction (1923), the Shenandoah Club (1893), and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce (1889) are but a few examples of resilient local businesses that have evolved with changing times and preferences over the past century. Of course, our small businesses are also hotbeds for innovation and creativity, and many of the newest are creating innovative ways to approach business. FAVE and its new take on helping businesses cater to those with intellectual disabilities, or Land of a Thousand Coffees with its emphasis on meeting our caffeine desires in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, are two such examples that quickly come to mind.
A local community and local economy are at their best when a diverse collection of businesses, both small and large, is present and thriving. The awards announced at the event clearly illustrated that local small businesses and nonprofits are certainly carrying their weight and represent a true strength in our community. They are indeed small and mighty! Now, let’s do our part to patronize and support as many of these businesses and nonprofits as possible. Let’s show them how much they matter to us and contribute to their mightiness!
- Bob Cowell
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