Why You Should Support Small Businesses in West Virginia

Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. They are classified as privately owned businesses that employ fewer individuals or have less annual revenue than larger corporations.  According to United States Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the United States. In 2011, Business Insider reported that small states rely more heavily on small businesses than larger states, but nationally, there were 1162 small businesses  for every one corporation.

According to the Internet Public Library, West Virginia ranks as the 15th smallest state at 1,852,994 residents. Small businesses are an extremely important aspect of the state’s economy and payroll.

The chart below shows the allocation of industries that made up the 115,260 small businesses in West Virginia in 2013, based on statistics provided by the SBA.

Create More Jobs

Small local businesses are the the largest employer nationally making up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms in 2014. In West Virginia, almost all businesses are small. In 2015, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reported 95.7 percent of all employers in the state were small firms. According to (SBA) W.Va. had 116,599 small businesses. The SBA also noted in 2015  297,588 (51 percent) West Virginians were employed by small businesses.

Keep Money Local

According to a study of businesses in a community on the north side of Chicago, for every $100 spent at local businesses, $68 was returned back to the community. In comparison, for every $100 spent at large chains, only $43 is returned back to the community. The study also noted, “locally owned businesses generate 70 percent more local economic impact per square foot than chain stores.” The circulation of money in local markets boosts local employment opportunities, helps conserve tax dollars, and increases the flow of goods and services.

Support Community Groups

A study posted by Sustainable Connections notes, “Non-profit organizations receive on average 250 percent more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.” Small business owners don’t have to worry about corporate policies or restrictions. For example, small businesses located on Bridge Road in Charleston, W.Va. participate in an event called “Give Back Thursday.” Between 5 and 7 p.m. during the first Thursday of each month, 20 percent of each retailers sales are donated to a local 501(c)(3) charity.

Reduce Environmental Impact

According to Grist, between 1982 and 2002, more than 100,000 small retailers disappeared. They were replaced by large chains, but though the stores were larger, there were fewer of them. This increased travel time for many consumers. Those who used to be able to walk to the store, now had to travel miles, unfortunately contributing to the emission pollution from automobiles. Local businesses typically use local resources. This allocation of resources helps cut down on processing, packaging, and transportation waste, ultimately leading to less pollution.

Product Knowledge

Shopping at local, small businesses gives you a one-on-one shopping experience from the supplier. This is not always the case, but most of the time you should expect a more personalized shopping experience from local businesses than from chains. In addition, most small business owners are willing to go above and beyond to carry the products their customers want. Diverse brand selection is not just in chains.

Katie Rugeley, owner of Virginia Lee and The Initialed Life in Charleston, West Virginia talks about her journey as a small business owner in the video below.

Story, video and graphics by Morgan Krieger