Our Voice: Today's the day to support small, Tri-City businesses

If you haven't done your part for Small Business Week, today is the day.

The 50th annual National Small Business Week concludes today. But you still have plenty of time and options to get out there and put your dollars to work at some of our community's great locally owned small businesses.

They aren't hard to find. More than half of Americans own or work for a small business. Two out of three jobs created in the United States each year are on behalf of small businesses.

Those are some powerful numbers.

The U.S. Small Business Administration produces the weeklong celebration, which features guest speakers who embody the entrepreneurial spirit that brings small business to life.

The organization's role since its inception in 1953 has been to act as an independent agency of the federal government to help our citizens start, build and grow businesses.

Many programs to achieve those goals are available through the SBA, from grants and funding sources to information on qualifying for government contracts.

That's a big deal in our community, as several small businesses have been created over the years to support the work of big Hanford contractors.

"Small business plays a crucial role in the development of our community and our region's economic prosperity," said Lori Mattson, president and CEO of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

That much is clear. Making sure we all do our part to keep small business in business is important. Lots has been made of the locavore movement -- to eat only local products. That's a lofty ideal but one that's unrealistic, especially if you like to eat fruits like bananas and oranges. And we sure like to see foods like our potatoes exported around the globe.

But you can find a lot of locally produced foods, especially this time of year. Farmers markets are abundant and you can visit one just about any day of the week in the Tri-Cities. If you're looking to support a local farmer or producer, today's market is in Richland from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Parkway. Get cherries while you can! The weather has not been kind to our local cherry crop this year and supplies are limited.

Small businesses abound in this community, from boutiques offering the perfect gift to flower shops to restaurants to shoe repair shops to dry cleaners. Network with your friends or your Facebook community and share your favorites. We don't know of many small businesses that couldn't use a few more customers.

We all know people who own small businesses. They are true practitioners of the American dream, willing to put it on the line for something they believe in and make their communities better in the process.

Big business has its place too. Sometimes small businesses grow up to be big ones. Sometimes small businesses are just happy where they're at and don't want to expand. Bigger is not always better.

Small businesses keep our economy rolling, and we should all do what we can to keep it going.