Small business success is essential to the health and viability of local communities.
Small businesses provide jobs, support the tax base, innovate and lead, support local charities with time and money, buy supplies and services from other local businesses, and support community events.
For a community to thrive, small business must thrive. When small business wins, the community wins.
Small business needs community support. Now, more than even, entrepreneurs need the community invested in their well-being.
Local business associations also play a big part in helping small business succeed. A galvanized small business community has far more potential for success. In Jefferson City, the Eastside and Westside business associations are two of a handful of local associations that participate in this role.
“I had several mentors in the group over the years,” said Todd Hohenstreet, owner of Hohenstreet Insurance and president of the Eastside Business Association. “When I’ve had a business question I’ve never faced before, I would reach out to somebody experienced who could advise or help and you can trust.”
Both the Eastside and Westside groups raise money during the year to provide $1,000 scholarships to several graduating seniors from area high schools. The Eastside association also built and maintains the veterans’ tribune called “Freedom Corner” at the intersection of High and McCarty streets.
Jeff Delong is owner of Custom Screen Printing and president of the Westside Business Association. He’s also heavily involved in the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce.
“The chamber has an umbrella over the business community, trying to help businesses get exposure, grow and address concerns,” DeLong said. “The smaller associations, like Westside, where I grew up, have always lived, and now have my business, are a way to focus some of those efforts under that umbrella, to things of concern on that side of town.”
Their strength in numbers also earn the associations some political influence.
“We are a group of business people who are very interested in the growth of the east side,” Hohenstreet said. “We actively participate in Jefferson City and Cole County government.”
The groups routinely host city, state and county officials at their meetings.
“I feel really plugged in when I attend a meeting where we hear directly from the mayor or a representative or a public figure on some issue,” said Brittney Schlup, owner of Premium Pets, and a board member of the Eastside Business Association. “Every time I left the meeting, I felt pumped up for what is happening on the east side.”