It was an energetic business crowd that spanned Pine Street. The Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce officially opened the holiday shopping season in the downtown business district with a traditional ribbon cutting on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. The event was a precursor to Small Business Saturday in Rolla, to be held November 25.

Mayor Louis Magdits IV held a ceremony proclamation, but instead of reading the document, he opted instead, to summarize the importance of Rolla’s small business community and to answer some important questions about the economic engine that helps drive the town.

The mayor said, “John asked me (City Administrator John Butz)  ‘What would you say to encourage someone to shop locally first (as opposed to going elsewhere)?’” “I would say these things. These are our friends and neighbors that invest their money and energy to operate a locally owned business.”
He said these are the people that employ many of us and provide us a paycheck. But he takes the idea further. He added these are the people that very often employ our teenagers and young adults giving them their first work experience. He noted that our small business owners are leaders in the community.
“These are the people that typically are our civic leaders who take an active part on the future of Rolla,” he continued. “These are the people that are there whenever an organization or group looks to fundraise a myriad of causes and needs.”
With a solid punch to to the state of big box store and internet shopping reality, he noted, “These are the people that reinvest their hard earned profits in Rolla and Phelps County and do not export their dividends to other areas.” “Money spent locally on sales tax never—ever—leaves Rolla or Phelps County. It is all reinvested locally.”
The small business community crowd cheered.

So what does a small business bring to the town? Mayor Magdits said, “Small businesses have a stabilizing impact on the local economy.” “Individual businesses may come and go, but the overall impact to our local economy is minimum—not like losing a large employer.”
He adds that small businesses can compete with great customer service. “It’s the biggest advantage, both during and after a sale.”

Mayor Magdits concluded his ceremonial speech by saying, “Collectively you [small business men and women] are the largest employer in Rolla. “We issue over 1,200 business licenses a year—95 percent of them are less than 50 employees and collectively, you employ 10,000 people.”
He thanked them for their service for keeping Rolla’s economy vibrant.

The ribbon extended across Pine Street as a symbolic gesture, for historic Pine Street remains the entrance to holiday surprises and wonderments yet to be discovered. Traffic was stopped and like herding cats, Executive Director Stevie Kearse organized the crowd and scattered blue “Join Us and #ShopSmall” signs throughout the mass of Rolla maroon for the photo.  
The ribbon was cut. Let the downtown shopping begin.