WITH JORDANNA THIGPEN
By Jordanna Thigpen
May 19, 2006
Small Business Week is drawing to a close here in the City, but
the small business community is only just getting started. A shy,
yet bold invitation: will you celebrate us, and yourself?
Small Business Week in San Francisco is a partnership between
the Small Business Commission and the federal Small Business Administration.
Together, these entities, with the help of a stellar executive
committee including the Small Business Development Center, the
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Wells Fargo, the Golden Restaurant
Association, the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and
many volunteers, produced a week's
worth of events for San Francisco. Friday and Saturday will
be the crown jewels, featuring neighborhood events. Small Business
Week is really a celebration of the small business community.
But what are we really celebrating? What does "small business"
really mean to the San Francisco community?
25,000 companies in San Francisco employ between 1 and 20 workers,
and 69,252 companies have no employees - generating nearly $4
billion in output. Employment in these so-called "micro-enterprises"
(although some are not micro at all - they include consultants,
legal experts, architects, doctors, designers, graphic artists,
et al.) Businesses with fewer than fifty employees are found throughout
the San Francisco economy, but are concentrated in professional
services, retail trade, and food services. Gross receipts of small
businesses has increased from $3 billion in 1997 to $4 billion
in 2003. So one thing we are celebrating is the fact that small
business is the single most important factor in the success of
What is the best aspect of small business? It's the fact that,
overwhelmingly, we are local.
The local economy is the future economy. Locally-owned and independent
businesses are the cornerstone of a community's economy because
owner/residents are in stewardship status, and employees have
an individual interest in the success of the company. The local
economy has far-reaching implications for the success of our society.
Local businesses are much more likely to do business with other
local businesses - thus ensuring the continued viability of the
community. The October 2004 Andersonville
Study of Retail Economics found that for every $100 spent
in Chicago's North Side, $68 remained in the Chicago economy,
vs. $43 for a multinational chain store.
Local businesses are much more likely to pay their employees
humane and living wages, because they see employees as part of
the community. They are much less likely to see employees as expendable
chattel, possible sources of tax subsidies, or just plain necessary
trouble, as Wal-Mart has. They are much more likely to use alternative,
innovative forms of ownership such as cooperatives.
Here in San Francisco you are seeing the glorious impact of the
local economy every day, everywhere you go. And you, as a consumer,
are the asbestos in the packing of our economy: the driving force.
We have always been on the cutting edge in the Bay Area (it's
OK to gloat for just a second, but don't tell anyone). The San
Francisco small business community is making this city more sustainable,
more livable, and investing more every day, to enhance our city's
elegant and nimble spirit.
So, this week, we all celebrate ourselves.
District 6 resident Jordanna Thigpen is an attorney, small
business owner and President of the San Francisco Small Business
Commission. You can usually find her at work and she doesn't get
to Ocean Beach often enough. Email Jordanna at email@example.com.