News-Miner opinion: We’ve had Black Friday and up ahead is Cyber Monday.
Today, however, is something super important to our local economy and to local economies across the nation. It’s Small Business Saturday.
It’s important year-round to buy local, keeping your hard-earned dollars — and any of your dollars, really — circulating in our community. Money spent in a locally owned small business might go toward paying the employees of that business or to buying goods and services from other local businesses. Employees in turn might spend their pay at other local businesses. And around and around that dollar can go.
Just how much a dollar travels around a local economy is open to debate. Estimates do vary, but one thing for sure is certain: Spending money at a local business helps that business, whether it’s a diner, a gift shop, a hardware store, a bakery or a newspaper.
Here are just some facts about small businesses in Alaska, taken from the 2018 annual Alaska Small Business Survey conducted by the Alaska Small Business Development Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Nearly 400 business responded to the survey, whose results were made public in February of this year.
• 99.1% of all Alaska businesses fall under the Small Business Administration definition of “small business.”
• 71,841 small businesses operate in Alaska, from Ketchikan to Utqiagvik.
• 142,448 Alaskans are employed by a small business.
• 65% of small businesses surveyed reported it was either very difficult or somewhat difficult to hire new employees for their business. This represents a 7% increase over 2017 survey data.
• 1 in 4 businesses reported seeking new capital in 2018; just a little over half indicated they were successful.
• 66% predicted their financial situation would be good or very good in 12 months.
• 56% of survey respondents reported their 2018 revenues were about the same or higher compared to 2017.
It’s not all rosy, of course. Small businesses in Alaska face particular challenges, among them finding qualified employees and high operating costs such as for shipping.
But the prevailing outlook has been a positive one, according to the survey.
The center’s executive director, Jon Bittner, wrote in an introduction to the survey’s findings that, “Businesses are focusing on expanding, hiring new employees and accessing new markets. They believe that not only will their business be more successful in the coming year, but that the state and their local communities will also be more successful.”
So today, on another Small Business Saturday, consider doing your part to help small businesses in the Fairbanks and North Pole region have a good holiday season and a prosperous 2020.