Feature Friday: Small Businesses

Feature Friday: Small Businesses

I’m no stranger to the pros and cons, benefits and trials of owning a small business.  In addition to my own small endeavors over the years, I was exposed to entrepreneurship as a child.  My granddaddy opened Robinson Shoe Shop in 1957, and it is now operated by my daddy and one of my uncles.  I’m sure this is one of the major reasons that the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act this week was important news to me, besides the fact that statistics show that small businesses are the source of a large chunk of the jobs in this country and are important to economic development.  They are also necessary in the community development of black communities.  Part of economic empowerment is generating and producing, not just consuming.

So today, my feature is two-fold: The Small Business Jobs Act and the film Harlem’s Mart 125: The American Dream.

I saw the film in late August on a Sunday afternoon at Central Library.  Not knowing that I had just said excuse me and stepped over the film’s creator, I sat in my seat and through the grainy cinematography (which I understood is an byproduct of a one-woman budget!! How passionate and awesome is that?), learned about an establishment that was not only the lifeline of several hard-working black business owners but also to the entire community in which it was located.  The film chronicles how the Harlem’s Mart 125 in New York became to be such a force and how the business owners were let down by the society and government that tells us that we have to get up and get our own.  It saddened me to see the disinvestment of the building, despite the fact that the businesses had been there for years, attracting and maintaining customers and staying relevant to a degree through the times.  Then came the gentrification of the area, which led to the government supporting new chain businesses while not providing support for the anchors that had been holding the community up the whole while.  The creator, Rachelle Salnave-Gardner, showed us that sometimes we really just get the short end of the stick–and that short end begets so many other implications for the business owners, their families, their customers, and the culture of the community.  If you get a chance to see or host this film, I encourage you to take it.

So what does the new bill that President Obama signed this week mean?  Additional loan availability, increases in the loan amounts, a higher tax deductible  for start-up businesses, tax deduction on health insurance expenses, and lots of other stuff.  Here’s another link with some info.  I hope that people, especially black business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, will take advantage of some of these newly passed opportunities.  We can’t control all the circumstances, but creating strong businesses and supporting those businesses hold much promise for the future of us all.

Happy Friday, folks!

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