As many prepare to head to area stores and online websites to find that perfect holiday gift, let's remember our local businesses!

Jacksonville is home to several large and many small businesses that offer an array of items for sale, and by shopping local, you are helping the town's economy.

From stylish clothes and the latest gadgets to home decor and antiques, local store owners are in full-swing, hoping area folks will opt to stay in town for their holiday shopping.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce president Peggy Renfro agrees that local residents should shop local!

"Holidays, family, decorating and gifts are on the top of the list this holiday season," Renfro said.

So, why exactly should folks shop locally?

"Keep money local, local investment, support for non-profits and support future growth are just a few important reasons to shop here in Jacksonville. Friendly people, personal connections and shopping at lunch are an added bonus," Renfro said.

Check out the Chamber's website at www.JacksonvilleTexas.com to get a complete listing of businesses who invest in the community by allowing folks to shop Jacksonville.

Saturday, Nov. 26, marks “Small Business Saturday,” a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.

According to www.sustainableconnectons.org:

- Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than a nationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms – continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.

- Non-profit organizations receive on average 250 percent more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

- Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation, and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

- Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

- A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

So, show your neighbor some support this holiday season and visit Jacksonville's local stores!

Please join the SBA and organizations across the country in supporting your local small business by shopping at a small business.