Picutred above: Gloria Harrison, co-owner of Levy’s Imperial Tire

Small businesses showcase resilience through these turbulent times, giving us hope for the country’s economic future.

We’ve all experienced personal life changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but few of us ever imagined that the local businesses that make up our communities and their employees would be affected the way they were.

Over the past few months, we have had to ride this thin line of social, personal, and local responsibility. For example, “You Are Safe at Home,” “Practice Social Distancing,” “Wear a Mask,” and “Support Your Local Businesses.”

Although unprecedented, these were (and still are) all very real circumstances, and one is just as important as the other.

Not only do small business owners worry about how their personal lives will shift, but also how their businesses will survive. Will their employees be safe? Will the doors of their businesses remain open or closed? Will consumers want to spend money on their products or services?

The importance of a small business goes beyond its location and the family behind it. Employees rely on their jobs and paychecks, customers rely on the products and services, and the community relies on them to keep profits local, as well as creating identity and culture for the city.

According to a July 2020 U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey, about 58 percent of small business owners said they worried about permanently closing. According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S. which employ nearly half of the private-sector workforce and create two-thirds of all net new jobs.

Lakeland’s small businesses have shown their resilience; and innovative spirits, industries, and communities have rallied together to make it through these tough times. Most didn’t lose hope, as they found the space to be inspired and look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel. In the midst of it all, even new businesses emerged, and organizations like Catapult encouraged and supported individuals with ideas and new business ventures. The Lakeland Economic Development Council also sent a message of hope to bring our community together and inspire us to look forward to a brighter future ahead.

“They must innovate, be resourceful, and remain flexible and adaptable.”

During a recession, small businesses have to make difficult decisions in order to survive. They must innovate, be resourceful, and remain flexible and adaptable. Some of our nation’s oldest small businesses are proof that a small business can survive one, if not a few, recessions.

Family-owned business C.O. Bigelow Apothecary located in New York City was established in 1838 and has operated throughout the worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also survived other 20th-century crises like the Great Depression and World War II.

As we continue to navigate through these difficult times, we support small businesses, cheer them on, and celebrate their resilience.