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Small Business Week 2023: Its History, and Why We Observe

By Dana Kroll, Uptown Marketing and Communications Specialist


This week Americans observe Small Business Week 2023. If you love the Uptown district, then chances are pretty likely that you love small businesses, since they are practically synonymous – Uptown would not be Uptown, were it not for the nearly 400 of these unique and individual establishments that call our corner of the city home. And thus, you are likely glad to have an opportunity to recognize these businesses, especially on this annual remembrance week. But did you ever wonder where Small Business Week actually came from? Beyond understanding the impact that small businesses have on your personal life – have you ever been curious about their greater impact on our communities, economy, and society at large? Take a look at these factoids.* We bet you find them as interesting as we do. 



1. Small Business Week began in 1963, with an announcement by President Kennedy, who wished to honor top entrepreneurs and small business owners across the nation. Every year since, the president of the United States issues a proclamation in its name, to recognize the critical contributions these businesses make in our country. President Biden’s proclamation is scheduled for today at noon, and you can watch that live, here, courtesy Youtube.


2.  More than half of Americans either work for or own a small business. At the same time, 8 out of 10 small businesses have zero employees (are run by a single owner). That helps illustrate just how many of them there are! 


3. Small businesses create two out of every three jobs in America each year, and have added 12.9 million jobs in the last 25 years. 


4. It is estimated that for every dollar spent at a small business, in the U.S., about 67 cents stays right in it that business’s direct community. That is compared to an estimated 45 cents when spending at a big-box corporate-type entity.


5. Uptown Grand Rapids is part of this thriving ecosystem – and the businesses that call our district “home” cover a whole host of sectors. These include:


Retailers, grocers, boutiques, and all things shopping – check this out! 



Gemini Handmade is not only filled to bursting with leather goods, home goods, fashion, accessories and more – but many of their offerings are handmade right before your eyes, from their open concept retail+working space.


Restaurants, eateries and sweeteries, bars, breweries, coffee shops, collaborative kitchen spaces, and all things food – take a look here!



Pursuit of Happiness Co: The hippest, sweetest, friendliest spot for fabulous bubbly and bites.


A dizzying array of service-based businesses; everything from salons, spas, wellness/yoga/fitness studios, real estate, financial institutions, vehicle service and maintenance; butchershops, cobblers, doulas, tattoo artists… suffice to say, if it’s a thing you need “done”, you’re almost gauranteed to find someone in Uptown who can do it… 


Community Auto Repair has been taking care of your wheels, right here in Uptown, since 1975!  Image courtesy Community Auto Repair


Plus a wonderful and growing assortment of small businesses geared toward learning and educational resources: We’ve got places to learn how to play instruments (like Riverside Guitar School and Triumph Music Academy); places to learn and develop your abilities as an artist (like Cultivate GR and Sweda Studio) – or your knowledge and appreciation of the arts (like LaFontsee Gallery ,Wealthy Street Theater, and Opera Grand Rapids); places to learn how to step up your culinary and baking abilities and add to your recipe repertoire (like The Local Epicurean, Sweet Details GR, and The Cakabakery) – and so, so much more. 


Pretty cool: When students perform for students. Image courtesy Triumph Music Academy


You’ll leave a class with Vanessa, owner of Sweet Details – feeling cookie confident! Image courtesy Sweet Details GR


If you are a small business owner, or if you work for a small business, thanks. What you do, matters! If you aren’t – perhaps take an extra few moments this week, to look around a little more carefully. You’ll begin to notice that our hive would be much less sweet without the efforts of so many busy bees. Your support is important – to the small businesses, our community, and our world. 




*National statistics listed have been provided by the following resources:

National Small Business Week – America’s SBDC (

Small Business Statistics Of 2023 – Forbes Advisor