Commentary by Bob Schaller, Dept. of Economic Development, St. Mary's County
May is here without question. Dirt is being turned in fields and job sites alike. Water is being turned for commercial and recreational fishing. The air is being turned by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and P-8 Poseidon aircraft, both here for program testing for years to come. These and all the goods and services providers that support these industries, from suppliers to workers to the shops the workers frequent, all share something we take for granted in a market economy. These are all business entities seeking benefit by offering benefit to others. Every time we spend, or work, we exchange value and keep the economy going. We typically don't think about it. Nor do the millions of others doing the same thing alongside. Now think about the collective impact of all that spending and working. Any Saturday morning at the grocery store is a good reminder. America runs on spending and working, both sides of the same economic coin. Without one you can't have the other.
Now think about working and spending at the most fundamental level, small business. The butcher, baker, candlestick maker level. What the small shop owner does is no different than what a Fortune 500 company does. Both exchange value. The difference is in decimal places. All businesses start small, by definition. Many grow, a few grow much larger. But the odds are that most will no longer exist in 5 years. These are tough odds. But this is exactly what a market economy offers and why participants respond. To beat the odds, to succeed, to get past the 5-year threshold. But most don't think about it that way. Business owners just go at it every day to serve their customers and hopefully see the next day. It's their living. So when you see a sign that says "in business for 30, 40, 50, or more years" you should take note. You can learn a lot from them.
Also take note of the clever spotlight logo that accompanies this article. May is Small Business Month and we're shining a light on it more than ever. We're very proud of our small business community in St. Mary's County and want to do everything possible to raise everyone's awareness about all they do for us.
Last week alone we held roundtables and focus groups with home-based businesses, local construction-related firms, and home-grown defense companies, and helped support the groundbreaking of a new local medical facility. We worked with our local restaurants to prepare for our first-ever restaurant week. On Tuesday we participated with the Chamber of Commerce in officially kicking off Small Business Month with the BOCC. We assisted the Port of Leonardtown Winery open for business starting this Friday. In the afternoon the BOCC saw first-hand three local businesses that represent the wide variety of offerings here in the County.
They saw at the Forrest Center the graphic arts students and faculty who helped in the design and wrapping of an ice cream truck that Hilltop Graphics outfitted for Bruster's. The truck will be used for Bruster's catering events. It's an amazing local partnership at the most fundamental level of small business I mentioned earlier. The Commissioners then visited Super Salvage, a metal recycling company adjacent to the St. Andrew's Convenience (Recycling) Center. This company's only been open a few months here and is busier than ever. Super Salvage is a more regional service. They also have a location in Calvert. The Commissioners then toured Defense Technologies Inc. (DTI) in Lexington Park. Among other things, DTI makes and tests unmanned air vehicles (UAV), so critical to national security. DTI is a local small business doing strategic work with national consequence.
There are a number of other small business activities to spotlight in May. See www.stmarysmd.com/decd/smallbizmonth/ and our newsletter for a complete listing. If you have something you'd like to spotlight please let us know and we'll include it.
Finally, save the date, Thursday May 27, 2010 7:30am is our own Spotlight on Small Business event at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center. Anyone interested in advancing small business in St. Mary's County is invited to attend. It's free, will be well-attended, and will offer plenty of information to assist local small businesses. For more information on the Small Business Spotlight or anything related to this please contact us at 301-475-4200 x1400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.