The Best Way to Celebrate National Small Business Week? Shop Local

The city's business leaders mentor new entrepreneurs. They've put systems in place to ensure that all small business owners are well-trained in the leadership skills they need to thrive long-term. And successful small businesses give back. I hope other communities will use Pensacola's journey as a blueprint.

Many small businesses have made their commitment to their local community part of their brand. This is what customers want. The more chaotic and

uncertain the world becomes, the more people crave a safe and stable home base. This is a huge trend, and it's taking place all over America.

This is how you, the small business owner, can compete with the mega-retailers. Create an experience for your community. Citizens will know they're being looked after, and they will want to do business locally. This can become your competitive advantage. Take care of the community, and it will take care of you.

The bottom line? Don't shop locally only during Small Business Week. Do it every chance you get, all year long.

A purchase from a small business owner is an investment in your community. Who better to support than those who are working so hard to create a better future for everyone?

Quint Studer is author of “Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America” and he is the founder of Pensacola's Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community's quality of life and moving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties forward. For more information, visit: www.vibrantcommunityblueprint.com and www.studeri.org.