The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Small Business Administration Tour Stops in Chinook


December 23, 2020

In an effort to promote the idea of shopping local, the Montana Small Business Administration (SBA) set a challenge for themselves: To visit one of the small businesses in each of Montana's 56 counties in seven days. In Blaine County, Shores Floral & Gift was the business visited on December 15 by Andy Shirtliff and Brent Donnelly on their "Peaks to Plains Business Resiliency Tour."

On Tuesday afternoon, Shirtliff, who serves as Outreach and Marketing Specialist for the SBA, and Donnelly, who is Montana's District Director for the SBA, visited for approximately 15 minutes with small business owner Bonnie Weber.

"They wanted to know how we fared during Covid," Weber said. "I told them that people have been so supportive about showing appreciation for each other. People have been sending flowers to teachers and neighbors or just to cheer someone. I had a lady come in the store the other day and say to one of her children, 'We're going to buy everything we can locally.' And I've heard other messages about people wanting to buy as close to home as they can. We're fortunate here to have the support of our community."

The Resiliency Tour, which began on December 10 in Helena, intended to highlight the importance of supporting small businesses during the holidays and the impact of local entrepreneurship.

"This tour is mainly about continuing to encourage those small businesses that have the grit and resolve to face the COVID challenges that they have for the last nine months," Donnelly said. "We also wish to raise and highlight some awareness about what these businesses have done to respond to the health challenges. And then to urge Montanans through the holiday shopping season to shop local, eat local, spend your money in your hometown to the best of the your ability, because it really does matter."

According to the SBA, small businesses make up 99.3% of Montana's businesses and employ more than 245,000 people.

"When local small businesses succeed, they create jobs for families, infuse new revenues into hometown economies, and preserve the unique identities of our communities," Donnelly said. "The SBA has played a pivotal role in supporting small businesses this year amidst the pandemic, but no amount of aid compares to customers in stores or families in restaurants."


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