In Clayton County, over 85 percent of businesses have less than 100 employees. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business (one with less than 500 employees), and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in Iowa, small businesses account for 97.1 percent of all employers statewide. Small businesses in Iowa employ almost half of all employees in the state, and in 88 of Iowa’s 99 counties, small businesses with less than 100 employees make up 75 percent or more of the county’s total businesses.
The most popular small businesses in Iowa are construction, services, and real estate. Over 93 percent of the businesses in these industries have less than 20 employees. Statewide, 33 percent of small businesses are female-owned, 54 percent are male-owned, and 13 percent are equally male and female owned. This is very comparable to the United States as a whole, except Iowa has a larger percentage of equally male and female owned businesses at 13 percent compared to the U.S. at 9 percent.
Small businesses provide jobs, goods, and services, and Mayor Loven points to yet another way shopping locally aids small communities. “Supporting local retailers is really beneficial to the city in many ways. The local option sales tax, which is one percent of the seven we pay, is sent to the state and then comes back to the county for redistribution. The money that brings in is used for paving streets and other city projects. So the more spent locally, especially in the county, the more we have to use for services to the community.”
Every year since 1963, SBA highlights the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation through National Small Business Week. Free webinars were presented throughout the week at www.sba.gov/nsbw/webinars with topics ranging from the U.S. economy and its impact on small businesses to growing your business online. Presenters include Visa, Google, Yellow Pages, Constant Contact, and other familiar names.
The Guttenberg mayor knows all too well the struggles of small business owners. “I always make every effort to support small business because I grew up in a small business family so I had those kinds of roots,” he explained. Loven’s father owned a car repair station and salvage yard in Waukon. His wife, Juanita, started a restaurant in Spillville and a bookstore in downtown Guttenberg.
“I know the importance of it and the struggles they have. It’s tough,” said the mayor. Over the past several decades, external forces have affected the competitiveness of small businesses. Citizens are more mobile and technologically connected, while big box retail and internet sales have made the global competition a factor. Women, the primary household purchasers, are members of the workforce and thus are making the majority of their purchases on Saturday, Sunday and in the evening, when business owners may close up shop to spend valuable time with their own families.
Chamber of Commerce Director Emily Sadewasser prompted community members to celebrate National Small Business Week. “This occasion reminds us that throughout the year, we should be supporting small businesses, shopping locally, and getting services locally – because small businesses are what keep our town vibrant,” she said.
Photo by the author.