We recently attended a Roswell Inc. Business Academy meeting where one of the speakers described Roswell as the quintessential, fictional town of‘Mayberry’, home of Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife. Obviously it wasn’t the size of Mayberry he was referring to with its one traffic light, one post office, and one long distance telephone line. Rather it was the idyllic small town lifestyle and sense of community it exemplified. Local merchants are a big part of what makes places like Mayberry so special: Remember Floyd’s Barber Shop, Foley’s Grocery, Emmett’s Fix-it Shop, Weaver’s Department Store, Walker’s Drug Store, and Wally’s Filling Station (employed cousins Goober and Gomer Pyle)?
Similarly, more than 60% of Roswell businesses are small businesses, two-thirds of which have four or fewer employees. Protecting these businesses with ‘local character’ and providing opportunities for them to grow serves our community in many ways. First, it keeps jobs and income within the City. Second, it creates a stream of demand for commercial space, potentially reducing vacancy rates. Third, it establishes loyalty from these business owners, making them more likely to grow in place and/or choose Roswell if they start additional business ventures. Finally, national research reveals that investments in small business development have the greatest success rate (and return of investment) to communities1.
It’s a simple fact: for every $100 spent, locally owned independent businesses generate $68 in local economic activity. National chains generate only $43.
1) Local business owners invest in their community; businesses are owned by people who live in the community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
2) Customer service is better: Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better, more personalized, customer service.3) Significantly more money re-circulates in the community when purchases are made at locally owned, rather than nationally owned, businesses: More money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses purchase from other local businesses and service providers. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the city tax base.
4) Most new jobs are provided by local businesses: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally, and provide the most new jobs in our community to residents.
5) “One-of-a-kind businesses” are an integral part of our distinctive character: Unique businesses give personality to a community. Tourism businesses also benefit: “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.”2
Mayberry is the portrayal of a hometown as it should be. Is Roswell a town exactly like Mayberry? Of course it isn’t. Although we don’t live in a town where the spare key to the courthouse is kept outside, above the doorframe, Roswell’s strong sense of family and community make it a great place to call home.
1Roswell Business Registry and FOCOM, 2011
2Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust