The week of May 12 will be celebrated as Small Business Week across the nation. It is a time to highlight the importance of small businesses to the U.S. economy. Alexandria has reason to celebrate small businesses every week, because they are such an integral part of our character and economy.
Ninety-one percent of the city’s businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and those small businesses generate 55 percent of Alexandria’s gross receipts. Small businesses generate almost 14 times the gross receipts of all the big box operations in Potomac Yard.
It’s clear that Alexandria’s economy and character are dependent on the success of our small businesses, but what makes the Port City such an ideal location for them? What is it about our city that fosters the unique small business community we love?
The first piece of the puzzle is found in the very fabric of our city. Many of the retail and office spaces that Alexandria boasts are particularly attractive to small businesses.
Retail spaces on King Street and Mount Vernon Avenue are perfect for small boutiques, intimate restaurants and specialty shops. In fact, 78 percent of retail stores on King Street are small, local and independent businesses.
Our commercial office market also features attractive offerings for small businesses. Smaller office buildings and historic spaces appeal to businesses like commercial creative companies and professional service providers. The physical traits that make our city so special help small businesses thrive.
As I have mentioned before, the city boasts many interconnected resources that support and promote small businesses. These groups focus on building an infrastructure and climate that makes the city an ideal setting for small businesses.
From City Hall to the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, many organizations work together to support and strengthen our small businesses. The Alexandria Small Business Development Center leads these efforts by helping entrepreneurs solve problems, overcome obstacles and plan for new opportunities.
These organizations know that strong small businesses broaden the tax base and improve the mix of goods and services offered in the city. They also know that small businesses contribute to a positive resident experience and enhance our quality of life.
The final element of our successful small business community is you, our residents. You support our entrepreneurs by buying local. You choose local plumbers, accountants, dentists and personal trainers. You support our local nonprofits through events like Spring2ACTion. You never forget that your support is critical, and you take that responsibility seriously.
All of these influences have shaped Alexandria’s small business community. From our infrastructure to our support networks to our residents, our small businesses have everything they need to thrive. So, during the week of May 12, just keep doing what you do, because every week is Small Business Week in Alexandria.
– The writer is the executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.