Although I always appreciated the idea in theory, I didn’t fully understand the importance of supporting small businesses until I took office as mayor and could see how critical they are to Mountain View.
Our small businesses are the backbone of our town and we would not be able to function well as a municipality without them. The more they flourish, the better off we all are. Special things like grants that help residents with sidewalk repairs and planting trees come mostly from sales tax revenue. These are things we know our residents want (we listen when you share your thoughts!) but it takes a healthy economy and a balanced budget to make them happen. Businesses in Mountain View also create jobs and unique products and services that big corporations simply can’t match.
I think we all know that small businesses are facing a number of challenges, including rising costs, competition from big-box stores and a lack of access to capital. For that reason, I’d like to use my column this month to share some ideas for ways we can all support our town businesses:
• Shop local! When you shop at a small business, you’re putting money back into your community. Your dollars support local jobs, provide revenue for programs that are important to you, as I stated above, and help create a vibrant and diverse community.
• Get involved. Small businesses need your help to succeed! Commit to shop local when you can and spread the word about your favorite small business. Ask the business if there are things you can do to help show your support. Participate in any events they have. Let local businesses know you appreciate them, and ask what they need from their community. (Thank you to Mountain View Liquors for sponsoring our Father’s Day Car Wash!)
• Advocate. Let your elected officials know that you support small businesses and that you want them to enact policies that will help them succeed. We are currently gathering input from residents, property owners, businesses and neighbors via a survey to hear what’s important to you. If small businesses are important to you, sharing this in the survey is a great way to help them. Tell us what you would like to see. Each adult in the household should complete their own survey. Go to www.TinyURL.com/TOMVPlan to find the survey and complete it. The survey is half-way down that page when you open it, but there is also a vision board and an interactive map. Do you have specific ideas for the businesses in town? Development on unoccupied parcels you’d like to see? Use the interactive map or vision board to share your thoughts. Especially in a community this size, your voice matters a great deal and could have a very real impact.
• Leave positive reviews online. When you’re happy with a small business, take a few minutes to leave a positive review online. This can help other people find and support the business. For example, share a review on NextDoor, Yelp or another social media platform. Post and tag the business on social media when you have a good experience.
Small businesses are essential to our communities. I hope you will join me in supporting them, so together we can continue to craft a stronger and more vibrant future for Mountain View.
Emilie Mitcham is the mayor of Mountain View.