Supporting the growth of local businesses

Amy Clickner

We’ve talked in the past about a successful economic development strategy needing three main functions in its portfolio:

– Attraction

– Retention/Expansion

– Start-Up

As any good businessperson knows, it costs less to retain a customer than it does to attract a new one, and the same holds true in job creation. When you hear “shop locally,” “fly from nearby” or “stay U.P. for health care” you may not think of them as statements of retention/expansion, when in fact, they are. This is the perfect time of year for me to remind you to support your local businesses and point out a couple programs the LSCP has to help support the growth of local businesses.

Have you checked out the “Be Local Buy Local” (BLBL) app sponsored by our local chambers of commerce? This is the second year of this local shopping and rewards program that saw 5,900 purchases and $553,000 in total sales in 2016! Can our community work to top those numbers for this year? I bet we can. Also, note the new gift card program that has been added to the app to help with those “tough to buy for” folks.

Small Business Saturday is just around the corner, smack dab between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2016, over 112 million people were out shopping at independently-owned small businesses on Small Business Saturday and that number is expected to increase in 2017. Believe it or not, small business owners generated an estimated $15.4 billion dollars that day! The LSCP wants to encourage you to continue to shop locally throughout this holiday season (and throughout the year!). By doing so, you’re showing your support for the community and helping local entrepreneurs grow their businesses, which invigorates our local economy.

Hey LSCP Partners, do you have your key? The LSCP “Key to the County” program is an incentive we provide to shop locally. This program is one way to support the local marketplace and for LSCP partners to support each other. It is a tangible way to maximize investment by attracting new customers to your place of business without spending additional advertising dollars. Partners are able to provide all of their employees with the discount (key) card which can be used for discounts at over 50 businesses throughout Marquette County. If you need additional keys for your staff or would like your business to be a part of the promotions, simply call our office.

Lastly, we are calling all businesses that have added new positions in 2017! Our expansion program, Plus One, is designed around the premise that an employer adding a single employee contributes to the economic vitality in Marquette County. Small businesses employ 40-53 percent of the workforce in Marquette County according to SBA data from 2014. At our annual meeting in 2016 we recognized 56 companies who added a total of 233 new jobs, bringing the total since the program began to 2,970 new jobs added. Not only do we want to support growth, but we think those that take the risk and continue to invest in our region deserve to be recognized. Again, simply call our office to let us know!

On behalf of the staff and board of directors of the Lake Superior Community Partnership, we wish a very blessed Thanksgiving holiday to you and your family.

Editor’s NOTE: Amy Clickner is CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.