It’s a rare occasion when a U.S. senator visits your small, family-owned business. It’s rarer still when that senator brings along a copy of the Congressional Record with your business’ name in it.
Maybe such events shouldn’t be so uncommon, especially in these uncommonly trying times for small businesses.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s visit last week to Lisa’s Fifth Street Diner in Bowling Green, for example, may have seemed like a grand gesture to those who looked up from their biscuits and gravy to see the same Republican senator who spars on Capitol Hill with Dr. Anthony Fauci having a quiet conversation with Lisa’s owners Lisa and Cliff Parker.
Paul’s recognition of Lisa’s as U.S. Senate Small Business of the Week, while welcomed by the Parkers, seemed inadequate as a way of rewarding such business owners for the sacrifices they’ve made during the coronavirus pandemic.
As the senator pointed out during his visit, nearly half of all new businesses fail during their first five years.
The Parkers have beaten the odds, staying in business for more than a decade and through a pandemic that has spelled the end of thousands of eateries nationwide.
While Paul’s low-key recognition of Lisa’s won’t draw the sort of attention the senator gets for his tussles with Fauci, maybe it should.
Lisa’s and other family-owned businesses struggle in the best of times. The pandemic has heightened those struggles.
The enterprises, like Lisa’s, that persevere through what can only be called the worst of times for small business deserve all the accolades they can receive.
Sure, small businesses like Lisa’s and others received government help to keep their employees paid and their doors open during the pandemic. But that infusion of public money is a use of our tax dollars that most would be hard-pressed to oppose.
As the senator said during his visit to the diner at Center Street and East Fifth Avenue, small businesses are the “life’s blood” of the American economy.
“Unlike the government, they can’t just print money,” Paul said. “They have to meet a payroll and other expenses.”
Meeting a payroll may seem mundane, but U.S. Small Business Administration statistics illustrate how important that routine act is.
A 2019 report from the SBA said small businesses account for 44% of U.S. economic activity and create two-thirds of new jobs.
In other words, we all have a stake in seeing that local, family-owned businesses not only survive but thrive.
Supporting such businesses with our presence and our dollars may have never been more important than during these challenging times.
Cliff Parker understands that, crediting his restaurant’s customers even as he accepted accolades from the senator.
“We were doing $800 to $1,000 per day in takeout (during the worst of the pandemic restrictions),” he said. “All the customers who came by while we were shut down really helped.
“It’s gratifying to get an award like this, but it’s more for our staff and customers. I think it’s a communitywide award.”
We couldn’t agree more.