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It can be better to let the other guy go first. After seeing how it goes for him, we might not want to go at all.

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Bruce Oliver Brink, 79, died April 18, 2014, at Life Care Center in Mt. Vernon, Wash.
Florence Elizabeth Prose, 90, died on April 14, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Charles Jasper Solomon, 94, died April 10, 2014, in Ketchikan.
6/21/2013
Our backbone

Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor David Kiffer has been preaching the gospel of small business for years, urging government to support those mom-and-pop operations that make a community, as he says it, “one job at a time.”

Rather than scurry around for the multi-hundred-job jackpot, he suggests, we do well to support one person’s good idea for a needed local service. As Ketchikan and other American cities have learned to their sorrow over the years, if they are one-industry towns, they can be brought down economically by things over which locals have precious little control.

But when a problem hits an industry as a whole — as when there was a big drop in tourism in 2006-07 — smaller tour businesses actually picked up, the mayor saya.

While a megabusiness can tend to take over a community, says Kiffer, “small businesses tend to build a community.”

Small businesses tend to involve and attract families, and families make a place home. Word of mouth lets the community know who is a good employer, and good employers draw great employees. Great employees have a stake in the community; their children go to the schools that local taxes support. Their spouses perform in local plays. They all might volunteer at the soup kitchen, then go eat at a local restaurant.

Not all small businesses stay small. In Ward Cove, for example, right alongside the Alaska Marine Highway System sits Power Systems and Supplies of Alaska — a business that began small, seeing a need to bring fuel to remote Southeast locations by boat, and answering the need. Now it’s at the hub of the flurry of activity, most of it small-business activity, in the cove that once housed the Ketchikan Pulp Co. mill.

Small businesses have been great for Ketchikan, and the First City is a natural hopper for big dreams. Whatever “it” is, in Ketchikan, we know we can do it. Small business leads the way.

This is Small Business Week. In his declaration of that, President Obama had it right, declaring that America’s small businesses reflect “the best of who we are as a nation: daring and innovative, courageous and hopeful, always working hard and looking ahead for that next great idea. They are our economy’s engine and our biggest source of new jobs.”

Celebrate small businesses, not just this week, but every day. They are the backbone of a great place to live; they make Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla and Prince of Wales Island “home.”