Main Street

By Bill Brunelle

In the age of algorithms and artificial intelligence, the best tool for businesses and economies to succeed is surprisingly low-tech. Rather than a device to install or a service subscription, a small business’s greatest asset may be the place it hangs its shingle. Main Street is a powerful place to be with an important story to tell.

Main Street Matters

Since 1980, reinvestments of more than $65 billion have gone into Main Street programs across the country, according to the National Main Street Center. As a result, local economies now enjoy more than a half million new jobs and more than a quarter of a million new businesses. For individual communities, the effects are just as powerful:

  • In Virginia, investment in main streets over the past 30 years has generated $2 billion in economic impact, including $870 million in employee paychecks, according to Preservation Virginia.
  • Iowa Economic Development statistics show Iowa’s Main Street businesses generated more than $43 million in sales tax revenue in one year alone.
  • According to Michigan Main Street Center and Michigan State Housing Development Authority, ten years of Main Street improvements have resulted in an annual average of 214 new Michigan jobs and $9 million in paychecks each year.

These data points should make small business owners proud. They demonstrate that Main Street makes a good investment for local consumers and lawmakers. They tell the story of a diverse economy that is resilient and a part of town that makes the whole community more vibrant.

The Main Street Story

Each small business has its own story to tell. This story is the business’s unique autobiography, from how it began to where it is going. By telling it, small businesses can leverage the power of Main Street in a way that will resonate with new and existing customers.

No two Main Street Stories are the same. Did you inherit your small business from generations of relatives before you, or did you start it up yourself in the last five years? Do you sell shoes, make furniture or design websites? What causes do you support and why do they matter to you? Your answers to these questions can become the elements that define your Main Street Story and help your business stand out from the big-box or online competition, connecting you with customers on a more personal level.

The Takeaway

The small businesses on or around Main Street are vital parts of a powerful system. They are the lifeblood of the community and the building blocks of the economy. In telling their Main Street Stories, these businesses can create a useful resource for attracting customers and building relationships.

The takeaway is simple: Tell your story because consumers will listen. According to the American Express OPEN Small Business Saturday Consumer Pulse Study, 89 percent of consumers are aware of the important economic role small businesses play in the community through taxes and jobs. Meanwhile, 93 percent of Americans agree it is important to support small businesses.

Small business owners should be proud of the impact they have. From the paychecks they write to the causes they support, each small business has a Main Street Story waiting to be told.

Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them.

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