What others say: A virtuous cycle

Statistics suggest that running a small business isn’t easy.

Jennifer Clark, a regional advocate with the U.S. Small Business Administration, said Thursday in Ketchikan that seven of 10 small businesses will remain in business after two years. After five years, only 50 percent are operating, and, after a decade, the doors of just one-third of all small businesses are still open.

Still, despite what appears to be long odds against long-term success, small businesses continue to be the backbone of the American economy.

According to Clark and SBA Region X Administrator Calvin Goings, small businesses account for half of the U.S. private sector workforce and 43 percent of the private payrolls.

“Small businesses create about two-thirds of all new net jobs in the U.S., “ Goings told a group gathered at the Ketchikan Small Business Development Center.

As Clark added later, “with numbers like these, you can see why the health of the small business is truly critical to the health of our overall economy.”

Clark, Goings and SBA Alaska District Director Sam Dickey were visiting Ketchikan as part of National Small Business Week. More specifically, they came to honor Renee Schofield, the owner of Ketchikan-based TSS Inc. owner who has received the Alaska Small Business Person of the Year Award for 2015.

Schofield is a worthy recipient, having seen Tongass Substance Screening grow from a one-person operation in 12 feet by 12 feet space in 1999 to a company that now has 13 employees and offices in Ketchikan, Juneau and Craig — in addition to Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

TSS has beaten the odds. Statistics indicate that a mere 24 percent of companies are still open 15 years after starting.

Schofield cited the support of the Ketchikan community as a factor.

“I’ve had great success because of that, because of the willingness of everybody to step up,” she said Thursday, citing prompt response and assistance from other local businesses. “We in Ketchikan are very fortunate to have those kinds of relationships.”

She also pointed to assistance from the SBA and the Small Business Development Center over the years, even during the start up of another business prior to TSS.

Our “takeaways” from this are that small business is crucial to the U.S. economy, and, as evidenced by TSS, success is possible.

It’s not easy, as any small business person can attest, but there is quality help available. A prudent business person is wise to use the assistance available here in Ketchikan.

Finally, community support is key to the success of most small business. In turn, the success of our small businesses helps build our community.

It’s a virtuous cycle that can benefit everyone.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

May 8

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