To recognize the impact of small businesses, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation Monday to kick off National Small Business Week.
"It's great to have a week set aside to honor small businesses. Everyone knows that small business is the heart and backbone of our country," said Joe Frank Harris Jr., Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
"Entrepreneurship is what has made our country great. You have to admire the resiliency, the determination of the small business owner. They continue to find ways to succeed and prosper and I find the overall attitude is picking up as we watch the employment pick up."
The optimism Harris sees locally has been mirrored elsewhere in the country. The National Federation of Independent Businesses released a report earlier this month detailing a slight increase in small business optimism over the month. With an uptick of two points, the small business optimism index reached 94.5 -- tied with the same number as Feb. 2011, which marked the highest reading in more than four years.
"This month's Index is the highest reading since December 2007, the peak of the last expansion. That's the good news. The bad news is that April's gain is the same as it was in February 2011 proving a year with no real gains," stated the NFIB Small Business Optimism report.
Despite the mixed news, Jessica Fleetwood of Fleetwood Security said she too has seen recent upswings in optimism. From her experience as co-founder of the Bartow Business Connection, a local networking group, Fleetwood has seen business continue to transpire at the group's monthly gatherings.
"I would say that there is more optimism from the small business owner that their business is increasing and I hear people saying they are doing more business, that things are up a bit and I think that is evidenced at networking events because more people are doing business with each other to help that trend," Fleetwood said.
"As small business owners, we rely on the people in the community to do business with us and we like to do business with people in our community to help support them and keep their businesses open.
"In Bartow County, especially, there are a lot of small businesses and all those small businesses employ local people, they keep the local economy going and the money they pay their employees goes back into the community so it's just beneficial to everybody."