By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Recognizing the major impact small businesses have on the local economy, Hillsborough County commissioners gave a plug to small business owners while the Riverview Chamber’s Tanya Doran asked shoppers to think beyond Small Business Saturday.
Launched by American Express in 2010 and held the last Saturday in November, Small Business Saturday aims to increase sales for smaller businesses during a time of the year when big-box stores and e-commerce interests promote Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, “loves the aspect of Small Business Saturday, but I want to take it outside that one Saturday a year and make it a year-round effort,” she said. “We need to get the community to realize we have these wonderful, great small businesses in our area and that to keep them open, we have to support them.”
According to Doran, 75 to 80 percent of her chamber’s almost 800 members own businesses with 20 or fewer employees.
By shopping local “you’re supporting those who work, live and play in your community,” she said. “These are moms and pops and grandmothers and grandfathers and aunts and uncles who pay taxes to support the quality of life in our community.”
Commissioner Sandra Murman presented the Small Business Saturday proclamation read at the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners board meeting Nov. 6.
“Our community would not be a success without its small businesses and our budding entrepreneurs,” she said, noting that more than 80 percent of businesses in Hillsborough County have 10 or fewer employees.
According to the 2018 Small Business Profile produced by the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses throughout the country, accounting for 99.9 percent of businesses nationwide. This accounts for 58.9 million small business employees, representing 47.5 percent of employees nationwide.
Hillsborough County supports “incubators, accelerators, education partners and other resources to help entrepreneurs be successful through access to capital, mentors and training,” said Murman, in recognizing the Hillsborough County Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC), established in 2014 and spearheaded by then-commissioner Mark Sharpe.
The ECC is designed to provide easy access to business service providers, resources, mentors and specialty training for small- to mid-sized businesses at all stages of development and in a wide range of categories, including pre-venture, start-up, micro-enterprise, community-based, targeted industry and technology and innovation.
According to Murman, the ECC “is home to more than 85 partners providing more than 14,000 points of assistance” and has become “the center of gravity for anyone looking to start or grow their business here in Hillsborough County.”
The center is home as well to the Florida Small Business Development Center at Hillsborough County, which has Tampa Bay locations at the University of South Florida (Port Tampa Bay Building, 1101 Channelside Drive, Suite 210) and USF CONNECT (3802 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 111). The FSBDC provides no-cost consulting, low-cost training and access to business data and research resources. Specialized services include capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, cybersecurity, disaster planning and more.
Operated by the Hillsborough County Economic Development Department, the ECC is centrally located in Ybor City at 2101 East Palm Avenue, Tampa. Parking is at 2109 East 11th Avenue. The center is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with evening and weekend hours available upon request. Call: 813-204-9267 or visit: www.hillsboroughcounty.org and search for “Entrepreneur Collaborative.”
For information about the U.S. Small Business Administration, including size standards and free business planning tools and resources, visit sba.gov.