How Small Businesses Are Making Big Waves in American Communities

In the vast landscape of the American economy, small businesses serve as the beating heart that keeps our community alive and thriving. And the passionate individuals that pour their heart, sweat, and soul into building these ventures drive their local communities and the nation forward. In fact, according to the SBA, small businesses account for 62.7% of net new jobs created in America between 1995-2021.

Every business owner has a unique story. Their diverse backgrounds and their distinct challenges make America’s small business ecosystem truly dynamic. Here are a few of the impactful contributions these entrepreneurs bring to our community with their determination, innovation, and creativity.

Small Businesses Build Bridges Throughout the Community

Beyond their economic impact, small business owners play a vital role in building vibrant communities that break down silos. These entrepreneurs often establish deep connections with their customers, employees, and neighbors, fostering a sense of belonging and social cohesion. 

Local businesses become more than just places to shop. They become gathering spots, meeting points, and catalysts for community engagement and development. Charis and Matthew Browne, owners of Hawaiian coffee shop 808 Social in Peoria, Arizona, do just that. 

808 Social draws the community together with the aloha spirit evident to anyone who steps into their coffee shop. This local business organizes events such as May Day Lei Day to share their Hawaiian culture as well as events such as Pitch In, to encourage other local businesses. Attended by community members, entrepreneurs, and SBDC (Small Business Development Center) counselors, Pitch In provides a platform for locals who want feedback on their entrepreneurial ideas. The support that 808 Social provides for this entrepreneurial event, which in turn uplifts local entrepreneurs, exemplifies the true heart of small businesses.

Innovation Is Thriving in Women-Owned Businesses

Photo of Tracey Latham at her Latham Industries building

Small business owners are known for their resourcefulness, adaptability, and innovative thinking. They have the flexibility to respond quickly to changing market demands, experiment with new ideas, and introduce unique products and services. Their ability to think outside the box and take calculated risks often leads to groundbreaking innovations that fuel economic progress and technological advancements. Tracey Latham, founder of Latham Industries, is a perfect example of how innovative thinking can create incredible products. 

Latham Industries is a woman-owned electronics manufacturer based in Phoenix that specializes in printed circuit board assembly. Her business supports diverse markets, including aerospace, commercial, medical, military, and security. Tracey recently participated in ASU’s SMB Labs, an initiative founded to support small businesses with the challenges they are facing. SMB Labs brings in students, faculty, and experts from the industry to help these business owners solve their challenges in an innovative, creative, and dynamic environment.

Diverse Perspectives Bring Fresh Ideas and New Products to the Marketplace

Photo of Gabbie and Ahlie, owners of Tassels Poms & Love

Small businesses contribute to the preservation of local culture and the celebration of diversity. From family-owned restaurants serving traditional cuisine to boutique shops offering handmade crafts, these enterprises provide platforms for showcasing cultural heritage and artistic expression. 

These business owners not only embody the diverse tapestry of America, but they also bring a fresh perspective that generates revenue from untapped sources. Mother/daughter team Gabbie and Ahlie are the incredible Latina business owners behind Tassels Poms & Love. Their business curates colorful and unique handcrafted items from talented female artisans in Mexico. 

While running their business to support themselves, Gabbie and Ahlie are also supporting hardworking artisans and their families. Their handmade tassels, handbags, and tumblers keep the spirit of Mexican craftsmanship and culture alive. In November 2022, Gabbie and Ahlie had a booth at Peoria Forward’s Innovation Night, an annual event celebrating the growth and innovation happening in the West Valley. Alongside a variety of local small businesses, Gabbie and Ahlie were able to connect with the community, sell their products, and engage with the rich entrepreneurial ecosystem—including SBDC counselors, mentors, resources, and customers—in the Valley. Their success is one example of how diverse perspectives foster an inclusive and multicultural environment that enriches society as a whole.

Supporting a Small Business Radiates Across America

Small business owners are the anchors and the soul of the American economy. They connect communities, drive innovation, and contribute to cultural diversity, all while powering economic growth. As conscious consumers, we can support these entrepreneurs by shopping with purpose. In patronizing local businesses, we show our gratitude for the thoughtful selection and personal touch they bring to the market. By celebrating the efforts of small business owners, we can ensure that the heart of America continues to beat with strength and resilience for generations to come.

To learn more about the programs mentioned in this article, please visit: Peoria Forward, ASU’s SMB Labs, and Pitch In. Be sure to check out and support the local entrepreneurs featured: Tassels Poms & Love, Latham Industries, and 808 Social.

Community members and entrepreneurs at Innovation Night 2022

Alexa Ruona

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