Partnership News and Views: Supporting Marquette County small businesses important
A recent online conversation with leaders in the public space arena included a shoutout to the Marquette area for its ongoing transformation from a heavy reliance on a small set of industries to a more diversified economy combined with significant investments in quality of life.
As you’ve already read in my previous columns, there is no shortage of innovative and exciting placemaking investments planned throughout the county, but another essential component of creating that sense of place is having a healthy, locally-owned small business ecosystem.
When you think of your neighborhood, favorite vacation spot, or visiting family, one of the first things that likely comes to mind is a locally owned restaurant, brewery, store, or some other type of small business. We attach memories and emotions to these businesses in powerful ways that can lead to significant long-term investment in a community ($0.68 of every dollar at a locally owned small business stays local), sometimes even culminating in a decision to move or retire nearby.
Because of this, supporting small businesses is a time-tested pillar for any successful economic development strategy. The definition of small business can vary, but a commonly used metric is a business with fewer than 50 employees. In Marquette County, that means approximately 2,700 businesses — approximately 96% of all businesses in the county — can be defined as small businesses. And that number is only growing as we continue to see a historic increase in new businesses as our family, friends, and neighbors decide to pursue their dreams or decide that they want a lifestyle change.
This year alone, the LSCP has provided startup related services to Marquette County businesses more than 75 times.
If you are thinking about starting a new business and you haven’t connected with LSCP’s Business Development Representative Brooke Quinn, I encourage you to reach out.
In addition to helping with the startup process, the LSCP can provide support to those businesses throughout all stages of their development including: enhanced marketing efforts through training, sponsorships, or special initiatives; navigating state and federal programs to access technical assistance or capital; networking opportunities to help unlock new revenue sources and keep spending local; site selection support for when the business outgrows its current footprint; and so much more.
One often overlooked consideration for small businesses is succession planning. Succession planning can be difficult to navigate — and sometimes, it is just far from a priority when you’re focused on growing the business. But succession planning is essential to keep the types of places we love open and thriving longterm.
Here in Marquette County, we are seeing several well-known small businesses begin to either think about or navigate this process. An outside perspective, like the LSCP, can help identify and explain roles and information that should be documented. To help start the conversation, the LSCP has created a succession planning guide available at www.marquette.org.
The LSCP is proud to support businesses and communities throughout Marquette County, both small and large. No matter your size, if the LSCP can be of assistance, please visit www.marquette.org or reach out to any LSCP team member directly. Thank you for your continued support as we work together to create an ever more prosperous Marquette County economy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Christopher Germain is the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s CEO.