Much to the surprise of Chevrolet, small businesses are actually the heartbeat of America. All kidding aside, statistics confirm that small businesses are truly the engines that drive our economy. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than half of Americans own or work for a small business, and small businesses create seven out of every 10 jobs in the U.S.

Those are impressive numbers. And, they don’t end there. Arizona is home to 511,828 small businesses, and nearly 1 million Arizona workers are employed by small businesses. The most recent data available shows that Arizona’s small businesses created 39,248 jobs in 2012. And, of the 10,776 small businesses that opened in Arizona in 2013, 78 percent of them were still open in 2014.

To break it down even further, SBA figures estimate that about 8 percent of the women living in Arizona and 11 percent of the men are self-employed, both of which are slightly higher than the national average. In addition, the SBA estimates that 68 out of every 100 dollars spent at a small business stays with the local economy.

Following the recent recognition of National Small Business Week, it’s a nice time to remember how important small businesses are and how, as a community, we can support them. Here are four ways that, as a business community, we can support our local, small businesses.

Patronize them. Spending money with small businesses is probably the easiest way to support them. LocalFirst reports that $73 of every $100 spent at locally-owned businesses stays in the community, compared to $43 at businesses that aren’t locally-owned. If your company needs a contractor for a project or a vendor for supplies, you can help fuel the local economy by researching small, local businesses that might be able to meet your needs. 

Talk about them. If you had a great experience with a small business, share it. Go online and offer reviews about that small business on sites such as Yelp, or leave a review on the company’s Facebook page. Positive reviews are generally harder to come by than bad ones, so spread the love. Remember to take that chatter offline, too. Nothing beats a referral from a trusted source.

Partner with them. Find ways to give your favorite small businesses more exposure by partnering with them on projects, community service initiatives or other outreach events. Beyond ordering cupcakes from your favorite local bakery for a company event, allow them space so attendees can grab business cards or offer them a featured spot on your program or upcoming newsletter. A little friendly, corporate neighborliness goes a long way.

Network with them. Support your local small business chamber by attending events and buying memberships. Make connections at charity events, awards presentations and other community gatherings. Once you make the connections, you may just find inspired ways to partner with new small businesses, patronize them and talk about them.  

It’s important for bigger businesses to remember their younger years, because everyone crawls before they walk. Supporting small businesses supports the overall economy, and contributes to a better marketplace for everyone.



(Editor’s Note: Rene Almazan is a senior vice president for Vantage West Credit Union, a $1.5 billion financial institution in Arizona, which serves a growing membership of nearly 135,000 via branches across Arizona and online channels, as well. Vantage West offers consumer and business banking services, and is federally insured by NCUA.