A lot of red ribbon has perished in Mount Airy lately at the hands of scissor-wielding officials cutting the symbolic tape at new business openings.
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce reported that 10 business have held ceremonies celebrating either a grand opening or re-opening since April, with four scheduled for June.
“It seems to be a trend,” said Randy Collins, chamber president and CEO. “Where we normally would do one or two per month, we have done 10 in the past three months.”
The chamber leader noted that while spring and summer is a common season for owners to launch a new business, “I think we’ve seen what could be called an uptick.”
It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific factor responsible for such a trend.
However, “I don’t think it’s a fluke,” Collins said, offering a few possibilities for the increase.
“Entrepreneurs seem to be born everyday in this area,” and, “It’s a pro-business area.”
Small businesses have the support of local government and other organizations, and the cost of doing business is relatively low compared to cities like Winston-Salem, he said.
Also, “I think you have a community that is in need of products and services.”
The chamber did not pinpoint which ribbon cutting ceremonies were for new businesses or for existing businesses who have expanded, moved or significantly remodeled.
An example of the latter is a remodeling at the Lowes Foods on Independence Boulevard. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held there Wednesday.
Either way, it’s an encouraging indicator, Collins said.
“We think a ribbon cutting is always a good sign that means, hopefully, positive things are happening with businesses.”
Opening a business is a big step, and an important one. Keeping those businesses open is even more important.
“The risk of opening a business is very high,” Collins said.
About 50 percent of all new establishments survive five years or more and only about 33 percent survive 10 years or more, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics available on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.
The local chamber’s Business Development Committee met Tuesday and discussed ways to support existing businesses in its membership.
One project included collecting resources from several local organizations which support the business community for the chamber, a point of contact for many new and existing businesses, to have on hand.
“We want people to know there are resources out there,” Collins said. “People that you can call on for help,” turn that great idea into a thriving business.
The Surry Community College Small Business Center was a prime example. The organization offers free consultations as well as classes on different aspects of business ownership, he said.
“The Small Business Center and other organizations will walk you through the process,” Collins said, and develop an understanding of the realities involved with opening a business that snag many well-intentioned entrepreneurs.
“There is no secret sauce,” when it comes to making a business thrive and survive, Collins said. But there are folks who can help.
“It’s often said that it’s the American dream,” he said. “We want to make sure that dream doesn’t become a nightmare.”
Collins indicated that while there is much to celebrate about the local business community, it still needs support.
He said that he often hears feedback from those visiting Main Street that the downtown is “booming.”
“It’s doing pretty well,” he said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s booming. Do they need more business? Sure.
“We want to encourage the community they really need to come down and support these businesses. That means a lot to them. We can help.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.