At Economic Impact Catalyst (EIC), we believe entrepreneurship is the key to equitable and inclusive economic development. Small businesses are fueled by an entrepreneur’s passion and drive to succeed. Through their success, they create meaningful impact within the community through job creation, diversity, and “third places,” a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg and refers to places where people spend time between home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place).

EIC’s Small Business Support Initiative (2022)

As an exciting 2022 experiment, McKenzie Dial-Fritscher, SVP of Operations for EIC, launched the Small Business Support Initiative. The goal was to challenge the EIC team to spend money they would have already spent elsewhere at small businesses in their local communities instead. This 12-month company-wide initiative specifically focused on supporting small businesses rather than “big box” stores with a goal of tracking $20,000 collectively. Fifteen employees took part in this project.

Purpose of EIC’s Desire to Shop Local

EIC conducted this project to invest money in small businesses as opposed to large corporations such as Amazon. The project was met with overwhelming participation and success as EIC team members tripled their initial goal, with the final spend totaling $67,216.71 across 25 U.S. states. What team members took away from the challenge, however, was about more than simply beating a goal. Actively spending money at small businesses allowed them to make a sustainable economic impact and improve the communities they supported, a key aspect of EIC’s company culture. McKenzie stated: “It’s really easy to go online and go on Amazon and not leave the house. In spite of that, there is something special and empowering to be able to go downtown in your local community and see where these entrepreneurs are going and be able to support them. Your $100 will go a long way for them in comparison to big box stores.” 

Personal Story of Support

McKenzie herself was able to have an impactful encounter with a small business. Her husband has a 2001 Pontiac Trans Am that was in need of some TLC. They chose a local shop to help with an engine rebuild. “It was awesome to work with a local shop and see the work they were doing and see how busy they are,” she stated. “The service was incredible… They answered any questions we had and really made a personable impression.” This is just one of the many key differences between small businesses and big box stores: a small business’s ability to provide more meaningful interactions and support with their services/products.

Key Takeaways from the Small Business Support Initiative

All in all, EIC wants to continue this initiative in 2023. Shopping small and shopping locally encourages the growth of a business and creates a sense of community. Thank you to McKenzie and EIC, who strongly encourages individuals to go outside and spend their money locally, as it changes more than just perspective. It allows for entrepreneurship development and community wealth creation. As McKenzie stated: “If you can ingrain the behavior of purchasing small, you can experience the positives that can come out of supporting small businesses, and it can become second nature [for you].” McKenzie reports that EIC has already started a database to track 2023 small business purchases and is looking forward to seeing the company exceed last year’s total spend and continue to invest into team members’ local communities.

EIC encourages a corporate culture of providing more equitable access to entrepreneurship. This extends into many aspects of our business, including the conversations in our podcast, “Breaking Down Barriers.”

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