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Small Business Saturday is Nov. 24

Shop local independently-owned stores and support the local economy.

Yesterday was Black Friday and we witnessed the requisite freeding frenzy of crazed shoppers at the big-box and chain stores looking buy the latest must-haves for this holiday season.

Today, however, is Small Business Saturday, where the focus is on supporting small, independent businesses.

American Express Co. is pushing Small Business Saturday with a promotion that gives cardholders a $25 credit when they spend $25 or more at a participating merchant.

A list of participating businesses can be found here.

Some businesses are offering their own deals, too.

Urban Cannibals in East Atlanta Village, for example, is holding a "Mother of All Local Food Baskets" contest. Those customers who spend at least $10 at the store will be entered in the drawing to win the basket, which includes locally prudced fare from Sweet Georgia Grains granola and AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery yogurt to Riverview Farms grits and Beautiful Briny Sea salts.

Atlanta Intown magazine has partnered with Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall again this year to promote his Keep It Intown campaign, which seeks to impress on shoppers the importance of supporting local businesses.

There's a reason to shop local: On average for every $100 Americans spend on independently owned businesses, some $68 comes back to the local neighborhoods in the form of employees and salaries, local tax revenue.

And small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. The 26.8 million small businesses in America — those enterprises with fewer than 500 employees — comprised 99.7 percent of all businesses in the country in 2009, according to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

Together, they generated $1.03 trillion in business income.

In Georgia, small businesses totaled 902,694 in 2009. That figure represents 97.7 percent of all employers and small businesses employ 45 percent of the private-sector workforce, the SBA says. They generated $26.1 billion in business income in 2009.

Beyond the numbers, of course, these small businesses also support local community initiatives and events from local festivals and neighborhood security patrols to fundraisers for park improvements and local residents in need.

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