Chambers set Small Business Saturday event

BELPRE – As a way to show and build support for locally owned businesses, area chambers of commerce are planning ways to participate in the national Small Business Saturday event later this month.

On Nov. 30, small businesses across the country will participate in the annual Small Business Saturday, including many locally owned stores throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“In coordination with the national effort, the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce is encouraging everyone to shop small that day,” said chamber executive director Karen Waller.

Beginning at 11 a.m. event day, shoppers throughout the Belpre business district could be surprised by a free gift card or certificate for businesses neighboring that they are in.

Throughout the day, members of the chamber’s board of directors will circulate among Belpre retailers to hand out free “Belpre Bucks” to one shopper in each store as a way to encourage people to visit more business locations to use the gift.

“Board of directors members hope to catch local shoppers in the act of ‘shopping local’ and rewarding shoppers for that community spirit, while introducing them to another business,” Waller said.

These $10 gift cards and certificates to be handed out are courtesy of Advantage Bank, the Belpre Senior Center, the chamber and retailers.

The Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley is not planning a special event for Nov. 30, as the organization has sponsored several smaller promotions throughout the month, said executive director Jill Parsons.

“Earlier this month we launched several ‘Cash Mobs’ to encourage people to shop locally and support our retail chamber members,” Parsons said. “Although we are not participating in the Small Business Saturday event itself, we do encourage everyone to shop locally this holiday season.”

Small Business Saturday encourages Americans to shop at small businesses to make a sizable impact on the local economy and community, according to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). The event shows support for locally owned businesses that create jobs, boost local and national economies and preserve neighborhoods.

“Small businesses are the foundation of our economy; half of America’s workers either own or work for a small business,” said Judy McCauley, district director of the West Virginia Small Business Administration. “Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to show our support for our friends and neighbors who throughout the year are growing our local economy, as well as supporting many local initiatives and organizations.”

The event was founded in 2010 by American Express as the “day we shop small,” dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide. The annual event is celebrated the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Small businesses have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years and employ over half of all private sector employees, according to the SBA.