Lifting up small businesses this holiday season

The VIEW from here



This weekend is the 11th annual Small Business Saturday, which normally, is a day dedicated to supporting small, independent businesses. Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, however, this year’s campaign has been calling on shoppers to celebrate their small businesses all season long. Specifically, it’s asking them to share shoutouts on social media, as 78 percent of small business owners say that positive social feedback on social media is a significant driver of business.

With that in mind, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is extending its own “Shop Small” efforts with the Spread the Cheer Sweepstakes.

Here’s how it works: Holiday shoppers complete the form provided at where they identify their favorite independently owned business in Genesee County. Each Monday through Dec. 21, the Flint & Genesee Chamber will randomly select one winning entry. The business listed on the entry will receive $1,000 and will be featured on the Chamber’s social media pages. Additionally, the person behind that submission will win a $500 Visa gift card.

The goal here is threefold: We want to shine a light on local, independently owned businesses while encouraging community members to shop local and small this holiday season. What’s more, we want to provide some of our local retailers, restaurants and other businesses with some added financial support in the final quarter of the year.

We’re not the only entity putting the spotlight on small businesses either. This month, Flint Township is regularly featuring different businesses on its Facebook page as part of the “Discover Flint Township” campaign.

On Nov. 28, the Michigan Small Business Development Corporation is teaming up with partners to host a virtual marketplace featuring 40 minority-owned businesses in Michigan. On Dec. 5, the Fenton & Linden Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting a virtual Jinglefest parade promoting businesses, in addition to area civic groups and nonprofit organizations.

There’s a reason as to why so many of us are concerned with supporting our small businesses right now. They are, after all, the “backbone of America.” According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 44 percent of U.S. economic activity. They employ our neighbors and contribute to the unique personality of our neighborhoods and community.

Unfortunately, the pandemic hasn’t been easy on them. According to the latest Yelp Economic Average, nearly 100,000 U.S. businesses have permanently closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locally, the Flint & Genesee Chamber has witnessed the impact of the pandemic while administering three different grant programs providing relief to businesses this year. Collectively, we received more than 3,200 applications from Genesee County businesses alone. That’s a lot of need, and it shows just how important your support is not only this season, but in the months that follow as well.

So, however you shop – online or in-person wearing a mask – remember to shop first at the small businesses who call Genesee County home.

Kristina Johnston is the COO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.