US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: South Dakota Supports Its Local Small Businesses

South Dakota Supports Its Local Small Businesses
By Sen. John Thune

Since 99 percent of South Dakota businesses are classified as small businesses, it’s fair to say we treat every day like it’s Small Business Saturday, the annual shopping event that occurs shortly after Thanksgiving Day. It’s a great way to shine a light on these homegrown establishments that are often pillars in our local communities.

It doesn’t matter where you grew up or where you live now, there are always a handful of restaurants, coffee shops, or retailers that become household names in your city or town. Maybe it’s a pizza shop where friends meet after school or on the weekends, or it could be a popular store on Main Street where you always buy a birthday gift for your wife or husband.

For me, when I was growing up, one of those places was the Star Family Restaurant in Murdo. If you grew up in Murdo or still live there today, the restaurant’s sign is as recognizable as the big McDonald’s “M.” It was at the Star Family Restaurant where we ended up on many Mother’s Days – my dad would treat my mom and the rest of the family to dinner after church.

It’s the same restaurant where I spent seven summers working to save money and pay for college. I started as a busboy, showed up at 5:45 in the morning, and made one dollar an hour. I worked my way to the back of the restaurant and washed dishes and even spent time in front of the grill. It was a great place to learn critical life skills like working together as a team, which is important no matter where you are in life.

For every story like mine, there are hundreds or even thousands more across the country, which is why celebrating and honoring the contributions small businesses and their owners make to local communities is so important.

There are more than 85,000 small businesses in South Dakota – a number that climbs each year. These small businesses employ roughly 210,000 people, which is nearly 60 percent of the state’s total workforce. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, that level of employment puts South Dakota in the top four states nationwide for the percent of its employment that comes from small businesses.

There’s a wide range of industries that serve as the foundation of the state’s strong small business presence, including construction, retail, food services, entertainment, recreation, and more. Bottom line, if you’re looking for anything from a good place to eat to a store where you can whittle down your Christmas shopping list, there’s a place in South Dakota that can meet your needs.

I hope you spent this year’s Small Business Saturday – and every day until next year’s event – by shopping small, as they say, in your community. It can make a big difference to everyone who depends on this local support.

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