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Readers Respond

Support small businesses this holiday season | READER COMMENTARY

Owen O'Neill, 4, of Rockville, shops for a tree ornament with his mother at Baltimore Inner Harbor's Christmas Village. Tue., Dec. 21, 2021. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

It’s time to give thanks and celebrate one another, a perfect opportunity to show appreciation for local entrepreneurs. Small businesses need our support more than ever. Skip the long lines at big box stores and head out to “shop small” and local (”Franchot: It pays for Marylanders to shop locally,” Nov. 22).

Since 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been a formal co-sponsor of Small Business Saturday, founded by American Express in 2010. Last year, shoppers showed up to support their local communities, and Small Business Saturday hit a record high with an estimated $19.8 billion in reported spending.

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Small businesses are vital to the Maryland economy. They are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods, provide jobs and give back to their communities. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy, small businesses account for 99.5% of all Maryland businesses and employ nearly half of the workforce in the state. To put it in perspective, for every $100 you spend at a locally owned business, roughly $68 stays in your local economy.

Many towns across the state are hosting special events, with retailers offering discounts and refreshments to draw consumers to Maryland’s main streets for a special shopping experience. Whether shopping in person or online, you’ll see that small businesses offer a wide variety of unique gifts and services, with unmatched customer service.

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If you’re an entrepreneur, the SBA has programs that can help you start, grow, and manage your small business, including access to capital, free one-on-one counseling, free or low-cost training and government contracting assistance. Learn more at sba.gov.

Happy shopping!

— Stephen D. Umberger, Baltimore

The writer is district director of SBA Baltimore.

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