June 3, 2014
Small Business Week
By Senator Lena C. Taylor
Nothing ensures that the character and economy of a community is maintained like the presence of small businesses. Small businesses strengthen communities by linking neighbors and families through the marketplace – creating space for not only trade and conversation, but also more reasonable standards of living. The growth of small businesses is linked with the long term stable economic growth, ensuring not only the quality of goods, but also quality of employment as well.
Small businesses allow for important decisions affecting communities to be made by the residents living in those communities, not by faceless corporations without a real connection to the area. This allows small businesses to give back to the community, which they do on a much larger scale then big box stores. Not only do local businesses support local causes, but they also provide well-paying and sustainable jobs for community members. By investing in small business we can make sure that those businesses address the needs of our communities.
We face many problems in the 4th district. From a lack of access to fresh and healthy foods for our children, to rising gun violence, to an unacceptably high percentage of unemployed Milwaukeeans (according to the Milwaukee Community Journal, African American unemployment last March was 11.6% last April!). When our community members are employed, they can support themselves and family and are less likely to engage in criminal activity. We must take action to right these wrongs – and the best possible course of action is to invest in small business.
Wisconsin, and more specifically, Milwaukee, has seen the number of start-up companies plummet in the last 30 years. A number of research foundations have sounded the alarm on the lack of small business growth within the United States, including Wisconsin. This means that we are not doing enough to help small businesses; not doing enough to help our community; and not doing enough to help the people.
The best means of initial action supporting programs which already do advocacy and support work for small businesses around the Milwaukee area. Initiatives such as MMSD’s “Business Development Program,” or the African American Chamber of Commerce offer loans, grants, and advice to individuals and organizations that are looking to create small businesses within the city. Additionally, the Wisconsin Economic Development Commission was established to work to ensure that Wisconsin sees long term sustainable economic growth. By working with these organizations and improving their efficiency, we can create a better Wisconsin for small businesses.
I’m so proud to be able to partake, and tell all of you, about Milwaukee Small Business Week, which is held this year between June 2nd through June 6th. Based on National Small Business Week, which was created in 1963, Milwaukee Small Business Week offers a number of events – from mixers, to conferences, to presentations – all highlighting the importance of small business in our city’s economy. For more information and a schedule of events, you can visit http://www.mkesmallbizweek.com/. This week and throughout the year, go out and support your local mom and pop shop – it’s good for all of us!