I attended a public meeting about the closures of several United States Postal Service stations in the inner city of Milwaukee the other day and listening to the opinions of community members lead me somewhere unexpected. I began to consider the role of the individual in aiding economic recovery.
One small business owner worried about what the loss of even a few businesses (and therefore jobs) in her community would mean for the other small businesses in the area. What type of rippling effects would she see? Her concern was real. When balancing on the precarious edge between success and failure, any slight movement in either direction can have a determining effect. So why, she asked, would anyone ever consider targeting such an area for downsizing?
What I’m trying to get at here is this: Who is responsible for the economic crash of local communities? Is it big banks that refuse to give loans to local startups? Or the community members that choose corporate services over local ones? Although total blame cannot be given to any one source, there is something to be said about the social responsibility of individual citizens to tip the balance in favor of small businesses. For every finger pointed at the system, there is one pointing back at the individual. As the saying goes, healing starts at home — and entrepreneurship is America’s home.
A New York Times article, ‘We can all become job creators’ outlines the big plans of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his newly formed Starbucks Foundation. The Foundation, in partnership with Community Development Finanical Institutions, will allow individual Americans to lend to small businesses. Starbucks customers will be asked to donate to the cause with each purchase, in hopes of reviving the American dream — and maybe convincing other chains to do the same.
I know you’re thinking ‘Starbucks? I thought we we’re talking small businesses here.’ But the ideology is what we’re focusing on; putting consumers face-to-face with the social responsibility we all have to support emerging entrepreneurs. Startups are the most effective means of driving job creation according the the Kauffmann Foundation. Over 3 million jobs are created annually by businesses within their first year. So, instead of getting angry about the shape of the economony, get proactive. That means doing your part to support organic growth; create jobs and transform ideas into reality. Do something for the collective, support your local entrepreneurs.