A millennium of opportunity Featured

9:56am EDT July 22, 2002

Small businesses have been around, not in the form we now recognize, but perhaps on the very ground we now occupy, since before recorded history. Why? Maybe because there has always been a need or desire for an exchange of goods and services and the energy to do so wherever people lived and worked together.

We still trade for beads and food and furs, but now that is done using credit cards in specialty shops, department stores, restaurants, malls and on the Internet. The more we change, the more we remain the same.

In Ohio, small business has a long history of success. There are more than 226,000 businesses with employees here and 361,000 self-employed individuals. These small businesses created all of the net new jobs in 1997 and appear to be continuing that trend. In fact, the income of sole proprietors and partners alone rose to $16.2 billion in 1997.

As we approach National Small Business Week, which begins May 23, it is time to recognize some of the local heroes of small businesses — a Marion woman who turned a natural disaster into a major personal success, a Dayton entrepreneur who took under his business “roof” an infant minority firm, a Cincinnati woman who has assisted other women in business, a Columbus creator of innovative restaurants and a banker and banks who have championed the cause of smaller firms and approved their loans.

As we approach the millennium, we pay appropriate homage to the history of successful small businesses. These entrepreneurs have risked their futures and those of their families to make us what we are today. We also worry that they may be so busy building even better mousetraps to market on the Internet that they may have neglected to do a thorough Y2K debugging. Incidentally, those with questions about Year 2000 issues can find information through the Y2K Help Center for Small Business at (800) 925-7557 or y2khelp@nist.gov. The SBA’s Web page, www.sba.gov, is a good source of assistance as well.

Congratulations to all the SBA Award winners you’ll read about in the pages that follow who will receive much-deserved recognition in the 1999 Small Business Winners Circle May 19. They, and their peers, will lead the way to abundant opportunity in the millennium. And a round of applause, too, for Small Business News which chronicles these champions monthly and partnered with the SBA, once again, for this year’s event.

Frank D. Ray is the Columbus district office administrator for the U. S. Small Business Administration. He can be reached at (614) 469-7310 or frank.ray@sba.gov.