UPDATE: More than 50 businesses to participate in Thursday’s second Small Business Festival | Central Missouri News

COLUMBIA – The Columbia Chamber of Commerce hosted its second annual Small Business Festival Thursday.

Several hundred people attended the event, which featured food, live music and other family-friendly activities.

“Small business is truly the soul of Columbia,” said Heather Hargrove, business development manager for Liberty Family Medicine. “We’re very fortunate to have a lot of small businesses in the community that provide a variety of services and have a lot of talent, and maybe not everyone knows about them.”

In addition to working for Liberty Family Medicine, Hargrove was on the committee planning this event. Liberty Family Medicine had a booth at the event. For her small business, she says, this is an opportunity to teach people that there is more to medicine than they think.

“It gives us an opportunity to talk about direct primary care and let people know that there are other ways to get full-service primary care that’s different from the traditional model,” Hargrove said. “It also gives us an opportunity to support other small business owners in the city, and we fully believe in that community.”

Fifty-seven local small businesses had booths at the event, an improvement of 17 new small businesses over last year.

“Covid has been very hard on our small businesses,” said Matt McCormick, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. “It was very hard to get through those years, and it was a struggle to recover. I think that’s why we’re seeing an increase in the number of booths this year, because it’s another way for our small businesses to take advantage. Make sure they get the word out there.”

Small businesses account for 82% to 85% of Colombian businesses, according to the department. The council qualifies small businesses differently than the federal standard, where a small business is defined as a business with fewer than 500 full-time employees. In Colombia, a small business qualifies as a business with fewer than 25 full-time employees.

“If we qualified it the same as the federal level, it would be almost every business in Columbia,” McCormick said. “And for many other communities, that would be most of their businesses as well.”

Hargrove said it’s an opportunity for community members to expand their horizons when purchasing goods and services.

“There are a lot of businesses in town that people don’t know about because they might not have a brick and mortar location,” Hargrove said. “We tend to get into the same routine and move around the same area of ​​town. ‘I live here,’ ‘I shop here,’ ‘My kids go to school here, things like that.’ Get out here. It will expand your understanding and knowledge of the wealth of small businesses here in Colombia.

It was also a networking opportunity for small business owners. Sally Fowler, owner of a dog training business, attended the event and spoke with another pet business about working together.

“They’re really friendly people and they’ve been able to give me more insight into the partnership I can do with them in my dog ​​training business.”

McCormick emphasized the importance of small businesses in the Columbia community and encouraged community members to find out what’s out there.

“Anything you need, any service or any good thing can be handled right here locally, especially by our small businesses,” McCormick said. “If you look at small business as an industry, it creates more jobs than almost any other industry. The value our small and locally-owned businesses bring to our community and the economic impact it brings is astronomical in many ways.”

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