All indications are that 2013 will present a continued uphill fiscal climb for small businesses — including many in our region — and it's clear local consumers are the only ones who can effectively do anything to make the economic terrain more tolerable.
An Associated Press business report highlighted some of these challenges in a recent article published in The Times business section, including the unlikely scenario of congressional leaders hashing out disagreements regarding tax and budget issues facing small businesses.
In the current era of fiscal uncertainty, it has become increasingly difficult for "mom and pop" storefronts to balance making payroll and paying taxes with keeping the proverbial roof overhead. Uncertainty among consumers hits these small business even harder than larger retailers as the smaller companies are unable to offer the lower price points of big-box retailers.
For all who value establishments like local downtown storefronts, barbershops and unique retail offerings provided by niche boutiques, this is a wake-up call that is crying out the words "Buy Local."
The economy and tax system won't be helping small businesses anytime soon, with economic growth only slated to reach about 3 percent in 2013 and lawmakers still haggling over the proverbial fiscal cliff.
So what happens to our local small businesses — the ones that occupy our downtown storefronts, small strip malls and other business complexes? What would the aesthetic downtown areas of Crown Point, Valparaiso and others throughout the region be without continued success of small local businesses?
Consumers who value these areas of town — and the niche that small businesses fill — need to put their money where their mouth is. Online and big-box sales are tempting, and those types of business also play an important economic role.
But don't let our small businesses get lost in the shuffle, and never take their presence for granted. If we forget to patronize our local businesses today, they won't be there to enjoy tomorrow.