San Francisco is a supporter of the national Small Business Saturday campaign

Make a big difference by shopping small for the holidays and every day

The holiday season is upon us. Not only is this a time to celebrate with our family and friends and give back to people in need, but it’s also a time for our communities to come together and celebrate one another. Our diverse neighborhoods, filled with unique small businesses, light up and shine when locals and visitors shop during the holiday season.

As our economy strengthens, with San Francisco’s lowest unemployment rate in years — 5.3 percent — we need to continue supporting our small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, they enliven our neighborhoods and they employ our residents.

Over the past several years, San Francisco has participated in the national Small Business Saturday campaign, which encourages people nationwide to get out and shop small.

I would like to call on all San Franciscans to visit and shop at all their favorite local small businesses this weekend. Whether it’s your favorite independent bookstore or gift shop selling items that are made in San Francisco, why not tell your friends and neighbors about them and bring them with you on Small Business Saturday?

While shopping small on Saturday will give a boost to small businesses during the holiday season, it is also important for San Franciscans to continue supporting these same businesses throughout the year.

I created an Invest in Neighborhoods program to provide customized assistance to meet the specific needs of our neighborhood commercial corridors. We provide low-interest loans, grants and resources to small businesses that are looking to expand or improve their storefronts, or need legal assistance.

The Office of Small Business is also serving as a one-stop shop for all small-business needs in San Francisco to support this vital business sector. The City is partnering with numerous nonprofit organizations that serve our small businesses and provide technical assistance, access to capital, business counseling, commercial kitchen space and much, much more.

Remember, when you shop small, you are making a big difference to our local economy and you are supporting your neighborhood.

Each year, many of these nonprofit organizations hold holiday gift fairs to promote the small-business owners and micro-entrepreneurs whom they’ve helped. From artisanal foods to unique locally made gifts, I encourage you to visit these gift fairs to do some additional holiday shopping while supporting a good cause.

Working Solutions-Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center-Pacific Community Ventures: Wednesday (wsgiftfair.jimdo.com)

SFMade: Dec. 7-8 (www.sfmade.org)

LGBT-Women’s Initiative: Dec. 11 (wsgiftfair.jimdo.com)

Urban Solutions-Fillmore: Dec. 12 (www.urbansolutionssf.org)

La Cocina: Dec. 13 (www.lacocinasf.org)

San Francisco really is the best place to start, maintain and grow your small business.

Let’s go out and support our small businesses this weekend, during the holidays and every day of the year.

Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco.Ed Leeop-edOpinionSmall Business Saturday

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