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April 29 to May 5 is National Small Business Week, prompting a community message from the Salida Chamber of Commerce to take time this week to thank a small business for their service to this community.

“The backbone of our economy is small business and we work hard at the Salida Chamber to promote small businesses,” said Executive Director Lori Roberts. “Our membership is comprised of 526 members, with the majority being locally owned small businesses.”

This most-American of observations, National Small Business Week, dates back to 1963 when President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation recognizing the important contributions to our country’s economy made by small businesses. The definition of small business is a bit larger than most think; it includes businesses up to 500 employees in size.

“I can’t say enough about the strength of our local businesses”, said Roberts, who said she moved here in 1995 because of the river and the mountains. “There was a charm about this place, but I remember that downtown was boarded up. Now, to see the health and the expansion here is astonishing. Along with that, I think there is the great sense of community — a like-mindedness that we want to protect the hometown feeling.”

Economically, the more than 27 million small businesses across this country constitute a major force in the U.S. economy. Small businesses generate about 50 percent of our gross domestic product, according to the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The majority of new jobs created across the country are created by small business. In fact more than 50 percent of people in the U.S. workforce are self-employed or hold jobs in small businesses.

Small businesses are often credited with huge leaps in innovation, and they provide opportunities for women and minorities to achieve financial success and independence. They are critical suppliers of components and services that complement the economic activity of large organizations.

Although the total number of employees working in small companies and those working in businesses with more than 500 employees is about even, research by the SBA notes that small firms hire and fire more frequently than do large companies. It says this might be due to the innovative nature of start-ups, their focus on new products and services which often create entirely new markets, and their need to adjust business models as they try to grow. Or it may simply be related to the known failure rate of small companies.

The SBA points to such new products created by small business as air-conditioning, the defibrillator, DNA fingerprinting, oral contraceptives, overnight national delivery, the safety razor, strobe lights, and the zipper.

Associations such as the chamber are vital connectors of small businesses, and they connect entrepreneurial start-ups to a business support system.

“Our local Small Business Development Center provides one-on-one counseling services in the areas of business research and marketing, new business feasibility analysis and business plan preparation,” said Roberts.