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Supporting Small Business Critical for Growing Economy, Jobs

'Owning a small business is hard work but critical to our economy and job growth.'

by Betty Marshall

Small business has long been recognized as one of the leading drivers of economic growth and job creation in the U.S. In fact, the Small Business Administration reports that small businesses accounted for 65 percent of the 15 million new jobs created between 1993 and 2009, and pay some 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll. Confirming that trend, last month the U.S. Department of Labor reported that small companies – those with fewer than 50 employees – hired 3 million workers in the second quarter of 2012, more than half of all hires.

These numbers are impressive and should be seen as proof that the entrepreneurial spirit in America is alive and well. But the numbers belie an important fact: owning a small business is challenging. In fact, it can be downright hard. Owners must often wear many hats – business manager, purchasing manager, marketer, bookkeeper, human resources coordinator, among others. Working to manage expenses and turn a profit can be one of the biggest challenges of all – because costs can be one of the biggest factors in whether a small business can hire new workers or keep the ones it already has.

Successful small businesses are also important to larger businesses, those from whom a small business owner might buy merchandise, printing, shipping or other products and services. For this reason, many large businesses have developed programs and promotions targeted specifically to small businesses and offering discounts and other benefits.

For example, FedEx offers discounted printing services for business printing. Budget Rent-a-Car offers discounted rates for business accounts while various wireless companies provide special savings for small business owners. In December, Google offered a two-for-one deal on its AdWords Express advertising service for small businesses.

As part of one of the largest retailers in the U.S., Sam’s Club also offers many discounts and special programs for small businesses. Sam’s Club serves some 600,000 Business Members every day at its more than 600 U.S. locations. In addition to savings on products, the clubs offer Business Members access to microloans and health and wellness plans through third-party providers. And, since 2010, Sam’s Club has even offered an SBA loan program to help small business owners gain access to critical capital.

  • Sam’s Club estimates it serves 600,000 Business Members daily in its more than 600 clubs across the U.S. In addition to providing products, Sam’s Club offers Business Members access to microloans and health and wellness plans through third-party providers.
  • In 2010, Sam’s Club launched the SBA Loan Program to address a major concern for business owners – access to capital. Through the loan program, 900 Members accessed more than $10 million to help grow their businesses. Almost 43 percent of those loans went to women-owned businesses, the fastest growing segment of business owners.

To highlight its commitment to small businesses, 16 Atlanta-area Sam’s Club locations will sponsor a Business Savings Expo event, Feb. 11-17. The event will offer $2,500 in special savings on a variety of items including office supplies and electronics, cleaning products, food and beverages, and much more. The Expo savings will only be offered at Atlanta-area clubs, and new members will qualify immediately for the instant savings. Family-owned restaurants, convenience store operators, event caterers and even local churches and offices will especially find these values appealing.

Sam’s Club is one of several large businesses across a range of industries that is not only proud to support small businesses, but is committed to helping them succeed. We encourage businesses – and citizens – to support local small merchants by patronizing their businesses. We also encourage large enterprises to look for ways to support smaller businesses through partnerships, discounts and other promotions. Owning a small business is hard work but critical to our economy and job growth – so let’s all give small businesses a helping hand where we can.

Ms. Marshall is Sam’s Club vice president of the Southeast region.

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