GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — It’s National Small Business Week, an event organized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The week celebrates the resiliency of American entrepreneurs helping to boost our economy.

Nationally there are 32.5 million small businesses. In 2021, North Carolina had more than 964,000 small businesses, accounting for over 99% of businesses, with more than 1.7 million small business employees in the state.

According to data from the 2021 Small Business Profile from the SBA Office of Advocacy, between March 2019 and March 2020, small businesses in North Carolina accounted for 26,727 establishment openings and 23,994 closings.

Despite the pandemic closing stores across the country, it was also an opportunity for new and modified business plans, says Vice President of Business Development at ENC Alliance, Uconda Dunn.

“The pandemic did several things. For small busineses that were just starting, they had to adapt to a new way of life. So, they were doing things initially that involved more technolocgy, they were doing more online ordering, more delivery services, they were doing curbside pickups. So, they had to reinvent themselves.”

Uconda Dunn, VP of Business Development, ENC Alliance

Anne Dorsey, owner of McCabe’s Costumes LLC, opened her doors in April of 2020. She always had a love for all things costumes and wanted to create a store that wasn’t as scary or overwhelming as other Halloween stores, for children like her own.

“The traditional Halloween store was really scary for my kids. I have a special-needs child and he was terrified. So then, it was just a hobby, and when we hit that COVID shutdown, I was like, ‘you know, let’s make this a business’,” Dorsey said.

McCabe’s Costumes just passed its two-year anniversary. Dorsey said for her, starting a business during the COVID pandemic wasn’t as daunting as it seemed.

“To me it was a practice year,” she said, “So if I really screwed up it was fine, we could just move on. It gave time to kind of move at my own pace and not feel like I had to do too many things at one time.”

Dunn said small businesses are the backbone to our economy.

“They are our neighbors, they are our friends, and they are the people who keep our downtowns growing, our main streets, so we really look forward to those small businesses coming into our community so that we can have a way of life, and our culture, and our traditions for our community,” she said.

To put it into perspective of just how many small businesses there are, Dunn says, “If you just think about the three, four blocks of 5th Street, all of those are small businesses. So if they weren’t here, what would 5th Street look like?”

Dunn and Dorsey advocate for small businesses saying, it’s important to frequent and patron local small businesses so you can see that money put right back into your community and have a sense of pride.

Other notable data shows that women made up 47.9% of workers and owned 44.2% of businesses. Veterans made up 6.3% of workers, owning 8.4% of businesses. Hispanics made up 9% of workers, and owned 6.2% of businesses. Racial minorities made up 29.1% of workers, owning 19.3% of businesses.

Compared to the national small business employment growth rate, North Carolina exceeded numbers, with small business employment growing by 26.8% between 1994 and 2018.