The COVID 19 pandemic confirmed the critical role that small businesses play in our daily lives. Throughout the pandemic, small businesses continued to provide crucial goods and services and kept our citizens employed. It sounds cliché, but our locally owned small businesses truly are the heart and soul of our cities and towns.

Small Business Saturday has become an American tradition following the Thanksgiving holiday. However, online shopping skyrocketed during the pandemic as more people stayed home to slow the spread of the COVID 19 virus. Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, is our chance to thank our local small business heroes that endured hardships over the last 18 months.

Small business remains the one stable job creator in most communities across North Dakota. Here at home, North Dakota’s 76,000 small businesses continue to generate 2 of every 3 net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services in both rural and urban communities. They employ more than 196,000 North Dakotans and make this state a better place to live in. As the voice of America’s entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration celebrates this nation’s 36 million small businesses that still ignite our local economies and enrich our communities throughout the year.

Each year Small Business Saturday provides a huge boost to the U.S. economy when over 100 million consumers spend more than $20 billion at small shops and local restaurants. With increased consumer confidence in the economy and a waning pandemic, this year’s Small Business Saturday looks to be even bigger and brighter.

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Economic prosperity is very good news not only for America’s small businesses but for society. In so many ways, small businesses act as the bond that holds our communities together. They fund the local tax base, finance local nonprofits and charitable organizations, and create good-paying jobs that boost the overall marketplace. By backing our locally owned small businesses, you support the thousands of jobs they create and the families they sustain. Small businesses are the backbone of our democracy and the solution to our most challenging economic problems.

On Small Business Saturday, please join me in making at least one purchase from a locally owned small business in your city or town. These business owners are the true superstars of our community, and they deserve our support, thanks, and appreciation.

Haut serves as the SBA’s North Dakota District director based in Fargo. He oversees the agency’s programs and services across the state.