News from Sarah Lucas and Lake Superior Community Partnership, sharing the U.P. Perspective:
Big business is always big news, dominating headlines and driving the dialogue on economic policy. But even as they demand our attention by sending their owners into space, down here on earth, we know there’s a lot more to the economy than giant companies, and that bigger isn’t always better.
Small business has a big footprint, especially in areas like Marquette County, where most of our workforce is employed by small, locally-owned businesses. For the sake of context, consider that about half of Michigan’s workforce is employed by businesses with fewer than 500 employees – but in Marquette County, 72% are employed by businesses with less than 100 employees, and 61% by businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
These businesses might be small, but together, they’re mighty, providing jobs for over 28,000 employees that help support families. And they provide the “local flavor” that makes Marquette unique, helping to create our communities’ identities and culture.
Of course, we know how important our local businesses are – we all have our favorite restaurant, shop, brewery, coffee shop, salon, or mechanic that we return to time and again for the products and service that we know we can’t find anywhere else.
And they know and support our community in turn, giving back through charities and programs, participating in local initiatives and politics, and re-investing in our community. One study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the community – compared to only $43 for every $100 at a chain store.
That kind of community investment is critical when times are tough, and the last year was certainly tough, for the community and for business, big and small. COVID forced all sizes and types of industries to pivot in order to accommodate new restrictions. In Marquette County, those businesses were here for us, adapting to e-commerce, take-out, pick-up, and more to make sure they were able to continue to serve the community safely.
How do we show our love for these businesses that work so hard for our community? By shopping locally, of course, in good times and in bad.
As one of the many ways the Lake Superior Community Partnership has supported local business throughout COVID and its aftermath, the Love on Local gift card program has been a huge win both for local businesses and their customers, promoting local purchasing and growing business revenues. The program was designed in 2020 to bring more customers to local businesses, with support from underwriters like AT&T, Eagle Mine, Enbridge, mBank, and Range Bank. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving: in just over a year, with over $275,000 in sales, our Love on Local program has sold nearly 3,000 prepaid cards that can be used at any local small business in Marquette County. Local business support like this was a lifeline for small businesses that were forced to scale back or close during the pandemic, bringing in revenue and customers when shopping and sales were constrained. Now, with restrictions lifted, the Love On Local gift card program can keep the love coming for our favorite local businesses.
You can support by visiting our website or downloading the Love on Local app to purchase gift cards, participating in our monthly drawings for local spending, and checking out our video series that helps market our local businesses on loveonlocal.com. And, a big thank you to those who support our local
businesses and the Love on Local program by shopping where your heart is. For more information or to find out how your business can participate in the gift card program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.