Alderman seeks recognition for city’s small businesses

Alderman Steven Mays is big on the city’s small businesses and believes the interests could generate extra support and profits with the city council’s declaration of September as “Small Business Appreciation Month.”

Mays will deliver his notion in resolution form to the council at its Monday night meeting. He’s billing his proposal as a means of encouraging the firms and ensuring their “viability in the community.”

Mays said that while he’s “certainly supportive” of bringing new industries and major businesses into the city, it’s “vital” that small businesses “are appreciated and feel like they’re getting a good return from the city on their tax investments.”

“I’m asking for Mayor (Debe) Hollingsworth and the council to collaborate even more with the Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Business Incubator and the small businessmen and women themselves in our efforts to improve shopping opportunities here and help in rebuilding our downtown and UAPB areas,” Mays said.

“It’s good to remember that if more people would shop locally instead of going elsewhere, our tax base would grow and city services could be improved and expanded,” he added. “Plus, existing small businesses might become bigger and new small businesses might open up. That all adds up to new jobs.”

Mays said another “smart reason” to shop locally is “a chance to really get to know the business proprietors.”

“The people who own or run our small businesses want to be as competitive as possible and are often the most willing to listen to customers to learn what’s wanted or needed,” he said. “Generally speaking, the same products you can find elsewhere are available right here. I know the small businesses do their best to be competitive in their pricing, but even when they may have to charge more than larger businesses, I think you’ll find that the small businesses are many times more open to adding value to their products with more personalized and better services after a sale.”

Mays said he has spoken with a number of small business owners who are especially frustrated by the current economy and long to be contributors to a turnaround of the city’s fortunes.

“Some of the small businesses feel that (city government) isn’t listening to them while the city collects taxes from them,” Mays said. “They just want to be heard and respected.”