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How entrepreneurship shapes a community

How entrepreneurship shapes a community

Lee: Are small businesses driving innovation?
Girodat: A small business hub can add ingenuity, creativity and a healthy sense of competition to a struggling, lackluster district in need of a jump-start. Up-and-coming entrepreneurial hubs tend to attract Small Business Development Centers, grants, business plan contests, co-working spaces and other vehicles for business development.

They also tend to attract more artists, entrepreneurs and creative workers and thinkers. All these additions can help the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Lee: What do small businesses do for the communities they’re in?
Girodat: A thriving business district can help foster a sense of identity, community and civic pride among residents. Plus, businesses committed to their surrounding community are more likely to get involved with local organizations (think Little League and Girl Scouts), charitable causes and politics.

They’re also more likely to participate in parades, street fairs and other special events.

Lee: Do you think customers are treated differently when they visit small businesses?
Girodat: Yes.

Small booksellers, shopkeepers, restaurateurs, dry cleaners and other retailers and service providers often get to know their best customers’ names and preferences. Shoppers and diners appreciate this heightened level of attention from entrepreneurs, which can strengthen their loyalty and trust in the business.

As a result, local businesses may enjoy a revenue boost from their most ardent supporters, especially around holidays and other special dates.

Lee: Do small businesses have any effect on the environment?
Girodat: Small business storefronts leave a smaller ecological footprint than big box stores and shopping malls.

Having more small companies in the neighborhood cuts down on employee commute time. What’s more, local residents and out-of-town visitors can walk to Main Street rather than driving on the freeway to reach a shopping mall or plaza 10 or 15 miles away.

There they can grab a bite to eat, knock a couple of Saturday morning errands off their to-do list and do a little shopping, all in one walkable business district.

The relationship between small businesses and their surrounding communities is a reciprocal, symbiotic one.

Each relies on the other to thrive: small businesses shape the growth and identity of their immediate region, while community members directly contribute to the success of the small ventures in their midst.

Mark S.

Lee is president and CEO of The Lee Group MI LLC, a Plymouth-based independent integrated marketing consulting firm.