Small businesses are the heartbeat of our neighborhoods and the lifeblood of our local economy.

In Arkansas, small businesses make up the majority of the business landscape, at 99.3 percent of all businesses in the state. This equates to 258,552 businesses. Small businesses can be found in every corner of our state.

While Small Business Saturday, held the day after Black Friday, is over, it allowed us to celebrate and support small businesses and what they do for communities. If you are looking for a way to find unique gifts while also supporting the local economy, small businesses are the way to go.

When you shop locally, you support your neighbors and community. Local businesses are owned by people who live in our towns. They go to our churches, donate to our Little League teams and show up to parent/teacher conferences.

It is estimated that for every $100 spent in a local business, $68 recirculates and remains in the local economy. Small businesses employ 47.1 percent of Arkansas employees, or 491,383 people total. Women own 43.1 percent of small businesses in Arkansas. Veterans own 9.3 percent, and racial minorities own 12.8 percent.

When you shop at small businesses, you are doing business with someone who took a chance on their dreams. The employees are likely personally invested in the products or services they are selling. That often means they can provide more specific product expertise and a personalized shopping experience.

Your small purchase can make a big difference this year. Our small business owners are emerging from one of the most challenging economic times in our history.

Despite the difficulties posed by the past year, Arkansas was recently ranked No. 2 for states with the most pandemic-proof small businesses. Personal finance website WalletHub compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia’s small business environment, determining which states’ small businesses were the most pandemic-proof and had the greatest potential to bounce back. Your continued support helped to make this a reality. We encourage you to support small businesses in your community this holiday season and year-round.

Rep. Les Eaves, R-Searcy, is serving his third term in the Arkansas House of Representatives. He can be reached at leseaves2014@gmail.com.

Rep. Les Eaves, R-Searcy, is serving his third term in the Arkansas House of Representatives. He can be reached at leseaves2014@gmail.com.

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