Across Bridgend and Ogmore there are hundreds of small businesses who power the local economy, providing thousands of jobs in manufacturing and retail, construction and farming, entertainment and recreation and more. We often focus on the big companies, yet smaller businesses are the lifeblood of our high streets and industrial estates, and the supply-chains to the bigger players.
In the incredible Sony Pencoed factory and innovation site, there are 150 staff working for 28 companies based in a business incubation centre on site. From the sky-rocketing success of the Blackberry Pi educational computer, to the BAFTA Cymru award-winning games developer and publisher Wales Interactive run by David and Richard. When I visited them this month, I was blown away by the enthusiasm and skill of their small team. But it’s also the Smithy in Blackmill, where I pop in for a filling meal and a cuppa on my rounds; and the Card Shop and the other tenants in the superbly refurbished marketplace in Maesteg; and Oxford House Menswear in Pontycymmer for great suits and shirts, the Cerddin Micro-Brewery for it’s fine ales, and Urban Angels hairstylists in Llanharan which I opened a few years ago.
We mustn’t take these smaller businesses for granted, because together they are far more important to job creation and economic growth than any number of stock-market-quoted giants. That’s why I’m supporting Small Business Saturday on December 7th – the first weekend of the busy Christmas period. The idea has come across from the USA where over time it has boosted trade and changed for the better the way high streets and smaller businesses are viewed.
What can you do? As a shopper, try and buy local where you can, because every banana or bandana you buy locally puts more back into our economy and jobs. Try out your local shops and businesses – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at prices and variety of products (Bakers DIY in Aberkenfig comes to mind!). Larger companies and local authorities too can try and think local for services and products.
And if you’re a small business, add your support to the Small Business Saturday campaign by visiting their website, or get in touch with me for more information. This is the first year of the campaign in Britain, but if we grow it together we can do a lot to support our many and brilliant small businesses.