Focus on Manatee, June 3, 2013: Small businesses bring big things to Manatee County

June 3, 2013 

No small potatoes. Small but mighty. Good things come in small packages.

There are lots of reasons that "small" things really add up to big things in Manatee County - and I would argue that the biggest of those reasons are related to small businesses.

Next week - June 12-17 - is the 50th annual National Small Business Week, as designated each year by the president of the United States. It is a time that communities across the country give special attention to small businesses as the bedrock of their local economy.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create approximately two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. According to Karen Mills, SBA Administrator, between 1993 and 2011 small firms accounted for 64 percent of the net new jobs created in the United States and the 28 million small businesses in the United States employ 60 million Americans, which is half of the private sector work force.

The economic impact of small businesses is huge in Manatee County. Two weeks ago, the Chamber celebrated excellence in small business through our 34th annual Small Business of the Year Awards, in partnership with the Bradenton Herald. It is one of my favorite events of the year.

At this luncheon business owners learn for the first time that they have been chosen by their peers as Small Business of Year. It is an emotional and powerful event with stories that reflect the importance of families, sacrifices made to support the dream of business ownership and unwavering employee loyalty.

This year, the following businesses joined the prestigious list of past award winners: Johnson PhotoImaging, Keeton's Office & Art Supply, NetWeave Social Networking, Suncoast Business Technologies LLC, and Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery (green business award).

Although it's a focus of the Manatee Chamber every day of the year, I ask that you pay particular attention to our local small businesses next weekduring Small Business Week.

Make an effort to patronize, shop or dine at a local small business … and let them know that you

appreciate how important they are to the job base and quality of life in Manatee County.

You can find a listing of more than 2,000 local businesses on the Chamber's website.

Just visit and click on our Preferred Business Directory link in the top right corner.

At the Manatee Chamber, we pay special attention to small businesses and are proud that approximately 80 percentof our 2,000-plus membership employs 25 or fewer. We know that these businesses are the fuel powering our economic engine.

Without these small businesses we could not attract those large businesses that make the headlines when they locate here.

By focusing on creating networks, sharing expertise, advocating pro-business and quality-of-life issues, and responding to the needs of small businesses, the Manatee Chamber helps create the right environment for small business success. And, the success of small businesses means the success of our community.

Robert P. Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at 941-748-3411 or

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