By Marcy Kates, Coordinator of the Microenterprise Network of Michigan
Pretend you can fly. As you soar through a bright blue Michigan sky, skimming the tops of brightly-hued autumnal trees, you spot your community and your neighborhood. Dip down closer, see the tops of the houses and buildings. Tilt your wings and swoop over a commercial area near where you live—maybe it’s the actual Main Street, or perhaps it’s simply a nearby smaller commercial/business enclave.
Land somewhere at street level, and look around. What do you see? A barber shop or salon that’s been there for decades? A husband- and wife-owned bakery? A neighborhood bookshop? Perhaps a local coffee shop or teahouse? The list may go on and on. Take a walk through your local farmers market or craft mall, and you’ll meet many more of these individually owned businesses. Imagine visiting any of these microenterprises, and listen to the conversations that occur on a daily basis. See commerce happening—money changing hands, with approximately eighty cents out of every dollar staying right there in the community.
Now imagine that these microenterprises don’t exist.
How does it change the character . . . the atmosphere . . . the HEART of your community? How would the relationships change—who might never meet and become acquainted? Would the same level of collaboration and network exist? Are there business partnerships that might never happen?
Last destination (for today at least)—think about your local organizations, including municipal boards and committees. Who are the people who serve your community’s civic groups? Who are the Board Trustees, the Chairs, and the board members? Who do you see at every community event, ribbon cutting, and festival? Are they the same people who operate the smallest of businesses (or those who started small and grew)? In my small community, well over half of the people who regularly volunteer to serve on boards and help run our civic organizations are small business owners.
Microenterprise owners pour their hearts and their wallets into starting their businesses, at the same time often becoming the foundations of communities. This is why Microenterprise Month in Michigan is a celebration! We celebrate and appreciate these entrepreneurs. Please comment and tell us about the special small businesses in your own communities! #MIMicroBiz #MIMicroBizMonth