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Editorial: Shop local this holiday season

When you’re doing your shopping this holiday season, don’t forget about all of the small businesses in the area that offer unique, quality items in our own backyard.

These small businesses — under an initiative organized by the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency and Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce — are rallying together at the end of this week for a special Shop Albert Lea campaign, which kicks off on Small Business Saturday.

As part of the campaign, people can be eligible to win prizes by visiting local stores through a passport tour that continues through Dec. 12. For every store people visit, they can get a stamp in their passport, which counts toward an entry for prizes.

This is a great opportunity to check out some of the new local businesses, as well as those that have been up and running for several years. If you haven’t visited some of these stores before or in recent months, you will be surprised to see all they have to offer.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses in Minnesota employed 1.2 million people, or 47.8 percent of the private workforce, in 2015.

Nationwide in 2010, there were 27.9 million small businesses. Since the latest recession, from mid-2009 to 2011, small firms, led by the larger ones in the category (20-499 employees), accounted for 67 percent of the net new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Before you consider going online to look for gifts for your friends and family, instead check out the area’s boutiques and stores. Consider the ripple effect you could have on not only keeping a small business in our community but helping it grow, too.

When you support a local business, you support your neighbors and your local economy. These are the businesses that donate to our schools, to benefits and to other good causes in the community. Let’s show them our thanks this season and throughout the year.