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Small Business Saturday Set to Launch 2nd Official Year


Small Business Saturday, a day created to support small businesses, has been gaining popularity among shoppers in its second year. At an Oct. 27 press conference kicking off Small Business Saturday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and American Express chief executive officer and chairman Kenneth Chenault spoke of the importance that small businesses have on both the local and national economies.

"I am thrilled to announce that we are launching the second annual Small Business Saturday," said Chenault, speaking at Rothman's department store. The event that will take place Nov. 26. "This initiative is all about jobs and our neighborhoods. We must support our communities.  Small businesses owners provide on-the-job training for about half of the private sector workforce and over the past 17 years they have created 65 percent of net new jobs."

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express and 130 partners last year in an attempt to help drive up small business sales in local communities.  This year's event looks to improve upon the numbers from its inaugural year where 1.5 million Facebook users "liked" the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and American Express reported a 28 percent jump in sales from the same Saturday the previous year.

"Small Business Saturday is about supporting small business overall," said Chenault. "The message that we really want to build here is support your small businesses. Not only will there be an increase in sales for small businesses, but you will see a growth in our overall economy and a growth in jobs. Last year was our first year, but we feel the momentum has built. People want to support small businesses and their neighborhoods."

Despite being aimed toward helping small businesses, Small Businesses Saturday is looking to grow this year with the aid of several larger companies. This year's event will feature an improved Facebook small business database intended to give national exposure to participating local retailers. American Express Open has put together and online tool kit for retailers and is offering $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 business owners who sign up. Google has also teamed  up with American Express to help small businesses tell My Business Story, a tool to create and post free videos online about their businesses. FedEx has given $1 million to local economies in support of Small Business Saturday, and is offering discounts on printing services for signage advertising the event this year.

Elected officials across the country are also jumping on board with this year's Small Business Saturday.  More than 50 elected officials in 30 states around the country have signed proclamations endorsing Small Business Saturday in their communities. According to Chenault, there is an expectation to have public sector support from all 50 states during the second Small Business Saturday.

"We all know there is more that we can do during these tough economic times to help retailers," said Bloomberg, who announced the "Building Blocks for Neighborhood Retail" initiatives to help promote jobs and local economic activity. "Promoting our shopping corridors and the businesses that call them home needs to be a grassroots effort and that is what today's announcement is all about. That is the future and that is the way we are going to work our way out of this."

By shopping, small retailers are hoping for large results this Small Business Saturday.

"All in all, Small Business Saturday is really about giving retailers the shot in the arm they need and I feel that this is a very viable campaign to be able to do it," said Patricia Norins, spokesperson for Small Business Saturday."The importance of that is to make it an official day. We need to make sure that local retailers get the recognition they need, and I think the icing on the cake is making sure that Small Business Saturday becomes permanently put on calendars."