U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

November 25, 2023

Local Anchors

Family is such an anchor in my life, which is why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s always a joy getting together with the extended Cardin family to enjoy turkey and football. Whether you had a traditional holiday – whatever tradition means to you and your family or friends – or you did something out of the ordinary this year, I hope you had a wonderful day to reflect, enjoy and spent time with loved ones.

For all the first responders, health care workers and service members who worked a holiday shift to keep our neighborhoods and our country safe, we salute you and thank you for your sacrifice and dedication.

Thank you to all the small business owners across Maryland and across the country, who opened their physical and virtual storefronts this morning ready for Small Business Saturday. This, too, is one of my favorite days of the year. I’m at Lexington Market in Baltimore City this morning with Myrna, checking out the diverse selection of local vendors and searching for some unique holiday gifts and delicious food. It’s been almost a full year since Lexington Market reopened and if you haven’t been back yet, now is the time.

For many small business owners, and there are over 639,000 in Maryland alone, it is a make or break kind of weekend. Your small business purchase combined with others’ small business purchases can get a retailer through the year. Nationwide, last year, small, independently owned retailers and restaurants brought in $18 billion in revenues on Small Business Saturday. Year-round, small businesses contribute to about half of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the country, and about two-thirds of job creation. Those are pretty impressive numbers.      

Shopping small this post-Thanksgiving weekend also provides a chance to shop local and invest in our community. According to the latest Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express, “for every $1 spent with a local business, over two-thirds ($0.68) stays in the local community to support local families, local causes, and other local businesses.” In contrast, for national retailers, Forbes reports that only about $0.30 – $0.40 per dollar spent stays local. 

There is much good news out there for small businesses, but entrepreneurship can be tough under any circumstances. A recent survey reported that over 80 percent of small business owners have a “positive outlook for holiday sales this season,” yet it remains true that about 20 percent of all small businesses fail in their first year and about 50 percent fail by the fifth year.

Despite incredible headwinds, the U.S. Census Bureau reported earlier this year that 2021 and 2022 were the strongest two years ever for new business applications. Women entrepreneurs are leading the charge, specifically Black women entrepreneurs. These new starts would not be possible without many of the new federal resources and programs Congress has enacted over the last few years.

As a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and former Chair, I’m proud of the programs I’ve helped put in place to help Maryland and other small businesses get started and have a stronger than average chance to thrive, especially through the pandemic. We now have four women’s business centers in Maryland and a codified Minority Business Development Agency with centers and services in the state. We also have groundbreaking resources for veterans, including a Veterans Business Outreach Center; and training and technology services to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities turn their ideas into reality.

Small businesses are anchors for our communities. They fulfill basic needs and stay on the cutting edge of technology and trends. They are champions for local neighborhoods, school groups, sports teams, as well as homegrown innovation and quality. They create jobs and boost local economies.

Today, on Small Business Saturday, as we move deep into the winter holiday season and, really, throughout the year, I urge you to think how you can Shop Local and Shop Small. Think about the choices that you have when deciding where to shop and eat or find services for your home and office. We all can help small businesses succeed.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts on this or any other topic. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.


Ben Cardin