When it comes to job creation and economic development, data shows that small and entrepreneurial businesses are a collective powerhouse. Representing more than 90% of U.S. businesses, entrepreneurs and small enterprises catalyze community prosperity from coast to coast.

An October 2020 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) counted 31.7 million small businesses in the United States. From urban centers to small- to mid-sized communities, entrepreneurs bring creative energy, provide jobs and enhance the quality of life. These enterprises often provide significant support to the communities they call home, galvanizing neighbors to support local businesses for the common good.

These small-but-mighty enterprises impact millions of Americans’ livelihoods. According to a report from Public Private Strategies, small businesses directly influence the financial lives of roughly 30% of the U.S. population. That’s more than 100 million people benefiting from the entrepreneurs around them.

The sheer volume and geographic deconcentration of small businesses equals socioeconomic, racial and ideological diversity among entrepreneurs. In 2019 approximately 18.3% of U.S businesses were minority owned, and that number is increasing. In some instances, self employment helps level the playing field by offering the possibility to prosper despite historically limited opportunities.

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) provides programs for entrepreneurs and business owners seeking to launch or scale companies. From interactive classroom sessions to mentorship and networking, the NEC helps accelerate small business growth. During the pandemic the NEC connected more than 850 small businesses and entrepreneurs with resources to help them navigate challenging times. The NEC always seeks to connect entrepreneurs with resources to increase their probability of success. Ultimately, we are committed to helping local entrepreneurs light, carry and pass their own torches — benefitting us all.

Jane Allen, the CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit founded in 2010 that provides opportunities to entrepreneurs and business leaders through programs, mentorship, and networking.

Entrepreneurs stock image by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock