This editorial message is a tribute and thank you to the entrepreneurial spirit of all of our privately owned, local Fayetteville businesses. 

No doubt, creating and developing your own successful business in these hard economic times is a major challenge. I’m talking about real grass root local businesses and not necessarily those hundreds of franchises that have migrated here. You know the businesses I’m talking about. The ones where absentee owners either cling to the elusive dream of striking it rich or revel in the title of “business owner” completely void of any sense of local community. 

The Internet compounds this situation and contributes considerably to the deterioration of local communities. Sure, “shop local” is a warm and fuzzy sound byte, but my fear is that it has become meaningless and somewhat of a cliché. That shouldn’t be. Small, independent businesses are the heart of America and the heart of this community. Yet dozens of new small businesses go out of business each month from lack of direction and support, while more established Fayetteville/Cumberland County businesses struggle to survive under the pressures of a sagging economy, high  taxes, excessive rules and complicated ordinances. And, of course, we have to again mention the Internet, which attracts and solicits an apathetic following, while returning nothing to the community. 

We need to celebrate locally owned businesses and create an ongoing awareness of their importance to our local economy. Alarm companies, printers, clothing stores, restaurants, financial services, pawn shops, jewelers, gift shops, art galleries, automobile dealers and even non-profit charitable organizations are local businesses that respond to the needs of our community. These businesses are the ones that sponsor arts and cultural events, buy season tickets and are asked to contribute to our schools, dozens of charities, festivals and cultural events. 

These people are committed. They are the ones who care about quality of life and have a true investment in our future. Big-box stores, franchises 

and Internet businesses siphon revenue, profits, taxes and opportunity from our community while locally owned businesses bear the burden of providing amenities  and infrastructure to
local citizens. 

Our local businesses are often contributors to the problem: unpredictable hours, short staff and questionable customer service. Look at downtown on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. People are out and about, but a large number of the businesses are closed!

I believe the majority of the local business owners truly care about their customers and the community. The point is this: No one is denying the lure and strength of the Internet. However, we need a greater awareness campaign marketing and promoting the support and consideration for locally owned businesses. A serious and aggressive one. Residents cannot continue to spend local dollars with Internet businesses and then depend on local businesses to support the community. 

 Here at Up & Coming Weekly we appreciate and salute small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit. Count on us for continued assistance and  support. After all, we too, are a small business. 

Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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