11/16/2010 12:08 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Best Gifts Come From Small Businesses

No matter how much we have been impacted by the economy, we'll all be out shopping for holiday gifts. But before you match your shopping list to your choice of retailers -- online and off -- think about how your purchases will impact the economy.

Small business is the lifeline of our local economies. Small businesses have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade; and represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms (according to the SBA). In fact, for every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through local taxes, payroll and other expenditures (according to 3/50 Project).

Knowing these facts, I was particularly excited to learn about the launch of a national movement to help build business for local merchants across the US -- Small Business Saturday on November 27th. Launched by American Express OPEN, the division devoted to small business owners and partner to many small business associations, including my organization, Women's Leadership Exchange, Small Business Saturday has the power to truly improve the financial picture for small businesses, the acknowledged driver of the economy.

With this first-ever Small Business Saturday, finally someone is paying attention to small business. The last two years have been frustrating for small businesses, seeing the big fish get rescued, while we minnows are left without a lifeline in the stormy sea. The economy has been a B Movie with bad reviews by the critics and no one buying tickets. The election results proved how the public feels about the lack of initiative taken by our government to help small business. Worse yet, small businesses continue to experience great difficulty in getting the capital needed to trudge through this storm. A recent study by American Express found that the recession hit small business owners harder than their larger counterparts. Consumer spending dropped more at small businesses relative to larger businesses. Small business lost market share, and are still 4 percent below the share they held before the recession.

It's time we all think before we shop. Think about how we can help small business and help our economy. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday drive sales to national chains and online retailers, Small Business Saturday recognizes the importance of small, independently owned businesses to the overall economy and local communities.

Small Business Saturday on November 27th is a day for all of us to support the small businesses that we care about. A day to celebrate the small businesses that boost our local economies and preserve our neighborhood character. Commit to shop locally and small with big bucks on November 27th. And thank you to one of the big fish -- American Express -- for thinking of the minnows. We all deserve to "do well by doing good".