Small Business Provides Big Returns

Guest Correspondence


Small business is a big deal in Sarasota County.  In fact, small business is such a big deal in Sarasota County that many of its residents would likely be puzzled to find the United States Small Business Administration oftentimes defines a small business as one with less than 500 employees.  Indeed, by classification standards, Sarasotans are far more likely to be familiar with microbusinesses (those with 1-9 employees) or nonemployers (those with no paid employees) than they would be with other technically defined small businesses.

In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, Sarasota County in 2013 was home to only eight businesses that had 500 or more employees. In total, however, the area boasted over 50,000 businesses across numerous sectors. That means that only one-tenth of one-tenth of one-percent of businesses in Sarasota County would not qualify as a small business. While mid-to-large size businesses in Sarasota County provide a significant lift to employment, and the area would be served well with a larger number of them, it is the industries more prone to smaller shops that house occupations with the largest populations in our area.  

For example, the real estate, rental and leasing industry provides the area with the greatest number of nonemployer businesses. The number of small businesses in the area is heavily anchored in the professional services, retail trade, construction and health care/social assistance industries. Those four industries contribute over 50 percent of the employer businesses in Sarasota County. Eighty-two percent of those businesses have less than 10 employees. 

Just because those industries are perhaps more prone to being microbusinesses in the area doesn’t mean their impact isn’t significant. The four industries above provided over 50 percent of the paid employment opportunities in 2013. An honorable mention in this area, to no surprise, also comes out of the accommodation and food services industry. Retail and construction also showed strong representation amongst the nonemployer businesses where they represented over 16 percent of the establishments.

Aside from the community’s reliance on them, there is great cause to support and celebrate small businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in the small business community is inspiring and enviable. If for nothing else, every large business came from small beginnings.

For these and many other reasons, it is appropriate that the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce honors extraordinary entrepreneurs—and salutes all small businesses—through its annual Small Business Awards.  On May 29, this year’s program will again honor exemplary small businesses from the area that have shown their outstanding commitment to the small business and greater Sarasota communities. These job creators provide the local community not only with an economic engine that provides for a sustainable future, but they also give our area a flavor that is distinctively Sarasota. Of course, these small businesses aren’t just numbers on a jobs report or a sales tax receipt to the government, these small businesses are your neighbors, your friends, and your families.  Small business is a big deal in Sarasota County; join the Chamber in giving them a big hand.   

SRQ Daily Columnist Kevin Cooper is the vice president for Public Policy and Sarasota Tomorrow Initiatives for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

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