Guest opinion: B2B companies play critical role in growing local economy

Joe Gammons
 |  Special to The News-Press

Consumers have long been encouraged to “buy local.” Doing so supports your local economy by providing local jobs and generating local tax revenue.

The same holds true for businesses when they “buy local.”

Small Business Saturday is a consumer-oriented shopping holiday, a time when we’re all supposed to consider how and where we spend our hard-earned dollars.

It’s also an opportunity for small businesses to commit to doing business with other locally owned, small businesses. As a B2B company, OFDC Commercial Interiors delivers workspace solutions to hundreds of businesses from Marco Island through Bradenton. In addition to supplying desks, conference tables, chairs, cubicles, bookcases, filing cabinets, accessories and commercial flooring, OFDC’s personalized services include interior planning and design, floorplan reconfiguration and project management.

B2B companies are allies to small businesses. For instance, when COVID-19 forced many offices to close, our company began supplying Rapid Response Screens and Harbor Screens that allowed employees to safely return to work. OFDC helped businesses reconfigure spaces so workers had more private workstations.

Across Southwest Florida, B2B companies are providing hardware to homebuilders, produce to restaurants, technology to law firms, medical devices to clinics, marketing services to contractors and more. Without B2B companies, these local businesses would not have the resources to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

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When a B2B company is growing, local businesses are growing. And vice versa.

In its 2020 “State of Small Business Report,” the Florida SBDC Network notes there are 2.5 million small businesses operating within the state, comprising 99.8% of all businesses in Florida. Small businesses create three-fourths of all net new jobs in the state.

When feasible, local businesses should commit to purchasing goods and services from local companies. That means buying tomatoes and strawberries from local growers when they’re in season. That means hiring local cleaners, plumbers and exterminators when those services are required.

Based on the data, there are 99 small businesses in Florida for every Walmart, Home Depot or Publix. These small businesses employ our family members, neighbors and friends. They sponsor our children’s sports teams and donate to school fundraisers.

Technology, unfortunately, makes it easy to bypass local merchants. Amazon lists millions of items and comparison shops for you, finding the lowest price. A few clicks later, and merchandise is being shipped directly to your home or business.

Before you click the “Buy Now” button, remember the smiling face that greets you at the door. Remember the entrepreneurs who are trying to create the American dream for their families. Remember your friends on social media who need another sale to make payroll this month, or to pay their mortgage.

Our state and our region need small businesses to succeed for our economy to succeed. We can make it happen.

Joe Gammons is president of OFDC Commercial Interiors, Southwest Florida’s premier source for quality office furniture and design concepts since 1974. For more information, please visit OFDC-inc.com or call 239-347-4876.

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