By John Keating, manager of Economic and Community Development, PSEG Long Island
Why do small businesses matter? There are more answers to that question than there are streetlamps on Main Street, but the best reasons may be the smallest.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for about 44% of our national economic activity. Locally, on Long Island, they are our economic backbone. Roughly 90% of the businesses here are small or medium-sized.
While these are certainly strong arguments, let’s zoom in a little closer: Personally, small businesses are the center of our everyday lives. You probably know exactly what shop in your town serves the best slice of pizza; the only dentist gentle enough to keep your panicky spouse coming back for regular cleanings; the bakery that makes the only red velvet cake your sister will eat; the daycare center that helped your kids learn their ABCs.
These are all small businesses, and PSEG Long Island celebrates their importance. We could not imagine life without them, and we recognize the blood, sweat and tears that local entrepreneurs pour into their small businesses to overcome endless challenges and find success in an ever-changing economic climate.
PSEG Long Island has been supporting small businesses with rebates on energy efficient equipment since 2014. And since 2018, we have been boosting small businesses with economic development grants and other incentives that keep local commercial districts thriving.
When the pandemic struck, small businesses faced their greatest challenge in at least a decade amid diminished foot traffic and new safety measures. Rising to the moment, we increased our small business support efforts with targeted grants, supporting local chambers of commerce and business improvement districts in their efforts to provide outdoor seating and signage to create a safe shopping and dining experience for their customers.
In the past four years, our company has committed more than $2 million to economic development grants and incentives across Long Island and the Rockaways. To learn more you can visit www.psegliny.com/inthecommunity/revitalization.
More than 100 businesses have received limited-time “vacant space” discounts for opening up in previously empty storefronts in their communities. Some businesses received Main Street Revitalization grants for making major upgrades that increase foot traffic in their commercial districts. And many businesses have received a much-needed bump from the outdoor dining and shopping improvements made possible by the dozens of grants we have provided to local chambers of commerce. All of these grants help optimize the use of the energy grid in these commercial districts.
We have also provided beautification grants of up to $2,000 to many local chambers of commerce to enhance the visual appeal of shopping districts.
So this week, I encourage you to do the little things that make life worth living in your community. Buy a pie from that pizzeria. Make a dental appointment for your spouse. Bring your sister a slice of that red velvet cake. If you drink, bring home a “growler” of beer from your local craft brewery.
Enjoy the vibrancy of your community, and PSEG Long Island will be there to provide the programs and support that continue to make your Main Street a destination for years to come.