Small businesses are the economic backbone of nearly every community and employ a significant number of employees. Therefore, the more successful small businesses are in generating revenue and in growing their workforce, the greater the benefits to people living in that community. It is a very simplistic view of economic development, and it is the core reason why chambers of commerce exist.
One could argue many factors are at play in supporting small business, and you would be right, but one of the most critical roles the Gainesville Area Chamber plays in supporting small business is advocating for the business community at-large and providing a unified voice for business. This is why we have a Public Policy Committee to debate issues and bring forth recommendations to our Board of Directors to take positions. Also, this speaks to the hiring of Kamal I. Latham, a seasoned U.S. government diplomat and international business consultant to lead our public policy efforts at the Chamber. Through Kamal’s efforts and expertise, we aim to create an environment in Gainesville, Alachua County, and the surrounding region, that fosters the growth and success of small business.
In May, we hosted our first small business growth dialogue with City of Gainesville leaders to discuss current regulations and ways to either continue what works or develop ways to improve what hasn’t benefitted business growth in the past. After hearing from several business owners in different stages of growth, we released our Small Business Growth Report. The report highlights 27 different recommendations for the city commission to implement based on six key business principles: Accessibility, Accountability, Simplicity, Consistency, Affordability, and Efficiency. Once adopted, the report will help the City of Gainesville provide economic opportunity to every business in the community by using the recommendations and principles as criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of city policies that affect business within city limits.
Stimulating small business growth isn’t confined to city policy. In recent weeks, the Gainesville Chamber hosted another small business growth forum, this time focusing on the cost of energy. Earlier this year, we created an Energy Study Group to focus on energy concerns in our community in an effort to ensure our competitiveness and establish an advantageous platform from which to grow from in the future. We anticipate the release of another report highlighting the opportunities for energy solutions in Gainesville and offering recommendations to benefit the growth of our business community.
Small businesses create jobs and are a key economic driver for our region. Their success is tied to our success in building a sustainable economic future for all businesses.