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While being ‘backbone of the economy,’ microbusinesses face unique challenges staying afloat in West Virginia

By Damian Phillips, The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Most businesses in West Virginia qualify as small businesses due to the number of people they employ.

Although many people think small business owners enjoy passive income, most work alongside their employees to lower overhead costs and ensure the business stays profitable.

Microbusinesses, which are a further classification of small businesses, are those that have 10 or fewer employees.

Of the roughly 35,000 active business entities in West Virginia, about 25,000 are microbusinesses, said West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts.

“Some [microbusinesses] are tech oriented. But most are sort of Main St. small businesses that are retail or service providers,” Roberts said.

These “Main Street small businesses” include barber and beauty shops, auto repair garages and contractors, Roberts said.

One difference between West Virginia and many other states is a lack of small agricultural businesses, which is mainly due to the fact that the Mountain State has steep terrain that does not permit much agriculture, Roberts said.

“But we have a lot of services related to mining and so forth,” Roberts said.

While there are many small companies of contractors, accountants, lawyers and other professionals, the majority of small businesses are non-professional roles that offer lower salaries and fewer benefits, Roberts said.

However, nearly half of all job opportunities in West Virginia are for small businesses, Roberts said.

“Small business is the backbone of the economy. The small business community is very dynamic, very creative. It’s really where entrepreneurs and the creative class thrive,” Roberts said.

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