THE ISSUE: October is Business Appreciation Month.

OUR OPINION: Now more than ever, small local businesses need support.

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There won’t be a jam-packed BAM BBQ or formal Salute to Business luncheon this year, but the community spirit for BAM (Business Appreciation Month) remains strong as it continues alternatively in 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual celebration hosted by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce to recognize small businesses for their contributions to the local economy and way of life will look a little different this year, yet the message persists: Small, local businesses are the lifeblood of the Citrus community.

Since 1977, Citrus Countians have observed a week of gratitude to honor those business proprietors who take initiative and make a difference in our society. And that reach extends far from daily operations: Small businesses employ 43,000 county residents, collectively generate more than $2.1 billion in salaries and are the major supporters of local civic and charitable organizations.

They not only provide the paycheck to support individuals and families in Citrus, they financially strengthen local events, youth groups, festivals and more through sponsorships and charity. It's nearly unimaginable to think of the state of the community without the aid of small, local businesses.

This year, uncountable numbers of mom-and-pop restaurants and shops have suffered at the hands of COVID-19. Profits are down or nonexistent, at times forcing some to shutter. Employees have been furloughed and reduced to the bare minimum. For many, the future remains uncertain, even as the Florida economy fully reopens in Phase 3.

In good times, local business owners are generally the first to step up to help Citrus charities carry out their various missions. In these bad times of the pandemic when so many of our local businesses are struggling to survive, it’s time for members of the community to step up by making it a point to Shop Citrus First.

Shop First has never been more necessary than now. The pandemic has led people to do far more business online than in person, affecting profits that stay local in Citrus County. While some businesses have been able to adapt by building an online presence or offering curbside services and adopting CDC recommended practices in their stores, others have not been so successful in moving through the fluidity of the pandemic and need help.

Throughout the month of October, the Citrus County Chronicle will be partnering with the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, spotlighting some of the unique and innovative businesses that make an impact on our community.

To celebrate Business Appreciation Month 2020, make the effort to patronize local shops, recreational establishments, eateries, drinkeries and more. Take the time to thank owners and employees at the local businesses you frequent, and let them know how much they are appreciated. Support them and their hard-working staff members with your dollars, and help to keep commerce flowing.

There might not be special networking events, luncheons or mixers this year, but the enthusiasm for Business Appreciation Month continues through the active gratitude of the citizens here in Citrus.

For more information about Business Appreciation Month activities, visit