Last week, I wrote about how Local First Chicago is looking to drive small business growth in the city. Last week, they worked together with the City Treasurer's office to highlight Small Business Saturday....
....and what a great gathering it was.
Last week, Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers announced his office, the Office of the Mayor, and Local First Chicago were launching the Shop Small Chicago Neighborhood Rewards Program. Initially created to drive customers to local businesses during the busy holiday shopping season, Small Business Saturday has engaged over 95 million consumers who spent $16.2 billion at local and independent businesses shopping for the holidays. The Shop Small Chicago encourages shoppers who support local businesses by providing a $50 neighborhood gift card for every person who spends over $300 at local businesses. (Some limitations apply - it starts on Black Friday, you will need to save receipts, and you can find participating organizations via this link).
Held in the Ravenswood neighborhood, the launch started with opening remarks and featured a merchant walk through Alapash New Home and District, two local businesses. Thanks to inclement weather, remarks were made inside of District, as Treasurer Summers and other local dignitaries spoke about the need to invest in our communities, and one of the ways is by encouraging the growth of local businesses. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity drive that investment, and as many of the speakers point out - neighborhood businesses tend to invest and put more money into the neighborhood than traditional "big box" stores. (Think of it as the inverse of the Wal-Mart Effect).
But as many readers will know, I'm not just an advocate of community-based businesses....I've also made an effort to keep my money and work local. I've featured organizations like Sunshine Enterprises, who work to drive local entrepreneurship. I have also worked with Greater Southwest Development Corporation and attended Tech Thursday sessions. I believe in the power of local business to drive economic development. It's more than just smart business - it's about building a stronger community, and in light of recent events...anything that brings us together is welcome.
I also believe that that this Saturday, many of us will be avoiding the Black Friday rush and participating in Small Business Saturday. Because it's not just about saving money...it's about saving our communities and neighborhoods.