Spinal Column: Small Business Week celebrates the companies that drive our economy

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Before I became a public official, I worked in the family business.

My training is in carpentry, and the family business is a woodworking and carpentry company started by my parents nearly 65 years ago.

I was honored to work for 38 years for the company, including serving as president until I joined the Michigan House in 1998. My time at the business instilled in me the importance of discipline and hard work.

As president of the company, I became well aware both of the joys and the struggles facing small businesses. I also grew to appreciate their importance to the economy and to the well-being of families and individuals.

In less than two weeks we will recognize the importance of small businesses statewide and nationally.

Sunday, April 29 through Saturday, May 5 we will celebrate Small Business Week.

Since 1963, the president of the United States has issued a proclamation every year announcing National Small Business Week. This is a time to recognize the vital contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The numbers surrounding these businesses are significant. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and these businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year.

In Michigan, there are more than 169,000 small businesses with employees and another 687,000 small businesses without employees. These companies employ more than 1,755,000 workers, representing roughly 51.7 percent of the private-sector labor force.

America’s progress has been driven by those who think big, take risks and work hard. These traits are the hallmarks of small business owners, and they form the backbone of our economy.

Small businesses often have greater contact with their community and can better respond to their customers’ needs. In many cases they can fulfill the needs of their customers better than larger companies can. Corporate bureaucracy is not a significant threat to most small businesses, which helps them adapt to change more quickly.

For more information on the significance and value of small businesses, visit the Small Business Association of Michigan at www.sbam.org.

Large, multinational corporations may get most of the press. But make no mistake: Small businesses — mom-and-pop outfits, family restaurants, professional services, internet marketing companies, and many more enterprises too numerous to count — are critical to our success. So make sure to pay these businesses a visit this year during Small Business Week, from April 29 to May 5.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.