Recognize small businesses every week

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This week is National Small Business Week. We don’t really need a special week to recognize small businesses because the importance of them are often highlighted in this column and through our news pages where we feature new, expanding and changing local businesses throughout the year.

Although small businesses are an obvious driver of our small town economies, many of us may not realize how much of an impact they make on the entire state economy.

In recognition of Small Business Week, here are a few statistics for you to mull over.

• There are 503,733 small businesses in Minnesota, making up 97.7 percent of companies in the state.

• Minnesota small businesses employ 1.2 million people — or 47.9 percent of Minnesotans in the private workforce.

•  Although small businesses can be quite large as the benchmark is 500 employees, the smallest businesses — firms with one to 19 employees — make up 15.5 percent of the state’s workforce and those with 20 to 99 employees make up 17.1 percent of the state’s workforce.

• Small businesses created 26,326 net jobs in 2013, the latest year those statistics are available.

• Small businesses make up 87.1 percent of the companies exporting goods from Minnesota, generating 27.7 percent of Minnesota’s known export value.

• Health care and social assistance employ the most people from small businesses with 203,434 people, which is 45.7 percent of the employment in that category. Next is accommodation and food services with 139,973 people, manufacturing with 136,082 people and retail trade with 118,513 people. The highest percentage of employment by small businesses is agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting at 94.9 percent. Next is the category for services.

• Both Fillmore and Houston counties have had job increases of 8.6 to 32 percent, among the highest level in the state, in 2015.

• Minnesota isn’t unique. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year.

Small businesses in small towns are even more important to the vitality of the community. Local businesses provide a base that not only provides employment for local residents, but also supports the community, schools and local government through taxes, donations and volunteer commitments.

With a changing rural economy in our area where so many people commute to jobs at larger companies, the importance of small local businesses may be lost. However, imagine if the stores that line the main streets and highways of our communities closed up due to lack of business.

So, take some time this week, and every week, to show appreciation to those small businesses in our community.