We Stand with Small Business
By Andrea H. Reay
Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce
Our Chamber was founded on the belief that we are better and stronger together. We were one of the first community groups that organized and focused on regional economic development when we united two smaller chambers in 1988 and became the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce. Although we now serve five cities and focus on the region as a whole, we don’t ignore the immediate needs of the individual cities or our small businesses. In fact, our regional approach helps to ensure our small businesses receive the maximum benefit of our work by focusing our collective impact.
Why are we so passionate about our region and supporting small businesses? Simply put, when you invest in small business, you invest in your community. We celebrate our small businesses every week, but especially this week, which is National Small Business Week. The U.S. Small Business Administration established this week in 1963, to help highlight the impact small businesses make.
Here in Washington State, 560,000 small businesses account for 98% of all the state’s businesses, according to the SBA. Also, over 20% of our state’s workforce is employed by businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Supporting small businesses is both good for our economy and good for our communities. When you shop locally, over 68% of your purchase goes back into our local economy versus only 43% when you don’t.
Our passion for small businesses is why we established our Universal Membership Program, essentially a free passport to accessing the benefits and resources we have at the Chamber. Qualifying small businessesâ€”those with four or fewer employeesâ€”are able to become Chamber Members at no cost to them. This opens up these businesses to benefits including referrals, reduced prices for Chamber events, and Chamber certified credibility.
We also work closely with our neighborhood organizations, such as Destination Des Moines and Discover Burien, that share our passion for small business and community.
“We all have our strengths,” said Debra George, Executive Director at Discover Burien. “Discover Burien uses our platform to lift up and connect the Burien business community and the Chamber amplifies lobbying and policy building efforts. This reciprocal partnership allows both organizations to gain visibility in the surrounding communities and better serve our members [to create] a vibrant and sustainable community.”
“The principal goal of Destination Des Moines is to bring together for the common good the community, businesses, non-profit organizations, and the City of Des Moines departments as partners,” offered Destination Des Moines President Tony Hettler. “Partnering with the Chamber is a huge part of us meeting that goal because of how they work to connect the community and partners together. We appreciate our partnership and working together to benefit our whole community.”
The Chamber offers discounts and incentives for businesses to belong to both groups because we know that the more engaged, active, and informed our small businesses are, the more successful they will be. These partnerships are a strategic and significant way our community comes together for our local businesses.
Thank you to all our brave and courageous small business owners. Your passion fuels our organization to work hard for you, with you, and for the benefit of our community. We salute you this week and every week.
Andrea H. Reay is the President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce – “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila since 1988.
For more information on the Chamber, including member benefits and resources, please visitÂ www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com.