Columbia Chamber kicks off National Small Business Week

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce kicked off National Small Business Week on Monday with a proclamation from Richland County and Gov. Nikki Haley.

Columbia Chamber President and CEO Carl Blackstone speaks about the importance of small businesses in the Midlands (photo by Kelly Petty).

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carl Blackstone speaks about the importance of small businesses in the Midlands. (photo by Kelly Petty)

“We’re happy to celebrate this one week out of the year to put on a pedestal small businesses, but it’s important for us to look after small businesses every week,” said chamber President and CEO Carl Blackstone. “It’s our job to look after them to help them grow, to prosper, to give them the tools that they need necessary to be prosperous.”

Richland County consists of more than 15,500 small businesses that employ between one and 49 people each. Chamber officials said the organization offers small businesses opportunities to leverage member partners and programs to support entrepreneurs in the Midlands.

“Sometimes you hear it’s good to stop and smell the rose,” said Lee Catoe, director of Community Affairs & Small Business Engagement at the chamber. “We are here to help grow the garden.”

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin touted the impact the construction of the multimillion baseball stadium, Spirit Communications Park, has had on local businesses. The project has garnered $16 million for local contractors, including $5.7 million for minority-owned businesses, which Benjamin said exceeds goals set by the city.

“We are committed to supporting our local entrepreneurs not just with words, but with actions, and the results of what we can get done together are undeniable,” Benjamin said.

Small Business Week 2015 is co-sponsored by TD Bank, which was ranked the No. 2 small business administration lender based on total loans and dollar volume in 2014 for South Carolina.

“We understand the important role that small businesses play in our communities, and we understand the commitment of helping it grow and be successful,” said TD Bank Regional Vice President Karen Smith.

The City of Columbia’s Small Business Conference begins Tuesday and lasts from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Richland County is offering a workshop Wednesday on procurement opportunities for small businesses. The chamber also is hosting a golf tournament at Fort Jackson Golf Club on Thursday and an IRS small business forum at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

More information on the conference can be found at the city’s website, while chamber events can be found on the chamber’s website.

Categories: Business, Richland County