Why do small businesses matter? There are more answers to that question than there are streetlamps on your local Main Street, but the best reasons may be, well, the smallest.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for about 44 percent of our national economic activity. On Long Island, they are our economic backbone. Roughly 90 percent of the businesses here are small or medium-sized.
While these are strong arguments, let’s zoom in a little further: Personally, small businesses are the center of our everyday lives. You probably know exactly what shop in your town serves the best slice of pizza; the only dentist gentle enough to keep your panicky spouse coming back for regular cleanings; the bakery that makes the only red velvet cake your sister will eat; the day care center that helped your kids learn their ABCs.
These are all small businesses, and during National Small Business Week 2022, which began last Sunday and ends on Saturday, PSEG Long Island celebrates their importance. We couldn’t imagine life without them, and we recognize the blood, sweat and tears that local entrepreneurs pour into their small businesses to overcome endless challenges and find success in an ever-changing economic climate.
PSEG Long Island has been supporting small businesses since 2018 with economic development grants and other incentives that keep local commercial districts thriving.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck, small businesses faced their greatest challenge in at least a decade, amid diminished foot traffic and new safety measures. We increased our support efforts with targeted grants, supporting local chambers of commerce and business improvement districts in their efforts to provide outdoor seating and signage to create a safe shopping and dining experience for their customers.
In the past four years, our company committed more than $2 million to economic development grants and incentives across Long Island and the Rockaways. To learn more, you can visit www.psegliny.com/inthecommunity/revitalization.
You can see the results of these grants in communities all across Nassau County: thriving small businesses like Rosario’s Pizzeria in Seaford, K-Fit Studio in Valley Stream, Noble Savage Brewing in Glen Cove, and Bright Eye Beer Company in Long Beach.
More than 100 businesses received “vacant space” discounts for opening up in previously empty storefronts in their communities. Some received Main Street Revitalization grants for making major upgrades that increase foot traffic in their commercial districts. And many businesses have received a much-needed bump from the outdoor dining and shopping improvements made possible by the dozens of grants we have provided to local chambers of commerce. All of these grants help optimize the use of the energy grid in these commercial districts.
We have also given beautification grants of up to $2,000 to many local chambers to enhance the visual appeal of shopping districts, and you can see these results, too. The Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District used the money to string lights through downtown to make it more inviting for residents and visitors to walk around in the evening. The Baldwin chamber used its grant for a “Welcome to Baldwin” sign.
The East Meadow chamber purchased American flags to line the business district.
So, this week, we encourage you to celebrate National Small Business Week in the simplest, realest way possible: Do the little things that make life worth living in your community. Buy a pie from that pizzeria. Make a dental appointment for your spouse. Bring your sister a slice of that red velvet cake. Bring home a “growler” of beer from the local craft brewery.
Enjoy the vibrancy of your community, and PSEG Long Island will be there to provide the programs and support that will continue to make your Main Street a destination for years to come.
John Keating is the manager of economic and community development at PSEG Long Island.