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Mayor, Chamber kick off Small Business Week

Travis Boland
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A group of city and county officials gathered Monday at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce of celebrate the beginning of Small Business Week.

The annual event turns the focus towards small businesses, celebrating what they have done in the community and finding ways to help them stabilize and grow.

“Small business is the back bone of the economy,” said Lee Catoe, vice president of Community Affairs and Small Business Engagement at the Columbia Chamber. “Small business flourish during tough times because people are forced to find work they wouldn’t normally do. Three out of four jobs in the country are created by small business.”

Mayor Steve Benjamin presented a proclamation on behalf of the City of Columbia while Chairwoman Joyce Dickerson presented on behalf of Richland County Council.

Benjamin said the people who start small businesses pour their heart and soul into their work.

“Entrepreneurship is hard, that’s why we must have programs in place to allow American ingenuity to pursue the American Dream,” Benjamin said. “Columbia is a unique place. We have anchors such as state government, universities and Fort Jackson, those are great economic engines, but in order to grow we have to make sure small businesses are able to thrive and continue to create.”

Chamber president and CEO Carl Blackstone said the city is doing a lot of things right, and it’s a great time to be in Columbia.

“We are focused on job creation in the Midlands,” Blackstone said. “The large companies are great, but the small companies are the ones that hire the most employees and put food on the table. This week is a chance to celebrate their success, and pay attention to what we can be doing better.”

Blackstone said the chamber is looking to reduce the amount of red tape for new ventures, along with lowering the cost of doing business in the Midlands.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth around the university with retail and commercial developments in the Downtown corridor,” Blackstone said. “North Main or Upper Main is beginning to become a new trend area in the Earlewood and Cottontown neighborhoods. We’re expecting to see a lot more growth in Bull Street as well. The more diverse we are as a community, the better we are to seeing these things come to fruition.”

The Columbia Regional Business Report reported last week about the new Indah Coffee Shop and Circa Barber Shop that have been opened in the Cottonwood area.

Small Business Week runs through Thursday, with events planned for the entire week.

Reach Travis Boland at

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