COLOMBIA. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce will host its second annual Small Business Festival on Thursday.
It will start in Clary Shea Park at 4:30 p.m. and run until 7:00 p.m.
“Small businesses are truly the soul of Columbia,” said Heather Hargrove, business development manager for Liberty Family Medicine. “We’re very fortunate to have a number of small businesses in the community that provide a variety of services and have a lot of talent that maybe not everyone knows about.”
In addition to his work at Liberty Family Medicine, Hargrove was a member of the committee responsible for planning this event. Liberty Family Medicine will have a booth at the event. For her small business, she says, it’s an opportunity to teach people that there’s more to health care than they think.
“It gives us an opportunity to talk about direct primary care and let people know that there are other ways to access full primary care in a different setting than the traditional model,” Hargrove said. “It also gives us a chance to support other small business entrepreneurs in the city, and we fully believe in that, in this community.”
Fifty-seven local small businesses will have booths at the event, an improvement over the 17 new small businesses represented last year.
“COVID has hit our small businesses very hard,” said Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick. “It was hard to go through those years, and it was hard to recover. I think that’s why we’re seeing more booths this year, because it’s another avenue that our small businesses can take advantage of to make sure they get the word out.”
According to the chamber, small businesses make up 82% to 85% of Colombia’s businesses. The Chamber defines a small business differently than at the federal level, which says a small business is one with fewer than 500 full-time employees. In Colombia, a small business is defined as a business with fewer than 25 full-time employees.
“If we qualified it the same as the federal level, it would be for almost every single business in Columbia,” McCormick said. “And for many other communities, it will also be the vast majority of their businesses.”
Hargrove said it’s an opportunity for community members to expand their horizons when it comes to purchasing goods and services.
“There are a lot of businesses in town that people don’t know exist because they might not have a regular office,” Hargrove said. “We tend to have the same routine and travel in the same area of town. “I live here,” “I shop here,” “My kids go to school here,” things like that. expands your understanding and knowledge of the wealth of small businesses here in Colombia.”
McCormick also emphasized the importance of small businesses in the Colombian community and encouraged community members to learn about what’s out there.
“Anything you could need, any service or any product, can be taken care of right here locally, especially with our small businesses,” McCormick said. “If you look at small business as an industry, it creates more jobs than almost any other industry. The importance our small, local businesses bring to our community and the economic impact it has is astronomical in many ways.”
The event is free to visitors and will include activities hosted by the Scouts, musical performances and food.