ORLANDO, Fla. — Small businesses are at the heart of the Central Florida community.

They've also been among those impacted the most during the pandemic. 

As Small Business Week kicks off across the country Sunday, local business leaders say community support can be the key to success.

What You Need To Know

  • Small Business Week starts Sunday

  • Central Florida businesses, especially black-owned businesses looking for reboot from pandemic

  • Black Business Orlando

Most days, Spivey Spa stays busy, a steady stream of regular clients coming in for a facial or a massage. Now a popular spot in Longwood, owner Lauren Spivey said she was nervous about opening up the doors to her new business in the middle of the pandemic last May. 

“It was very scary. First of all, spa services are high contact, right? So do my clients feel safe? Do I feel safe? I was opening not sure if we’d be able to operate,” said Lauren Spivey, owner of Spivey Spa. 

She was surprised to see a rush of clients coming in, mentally drained from the pandemic and seeking human contact and comfort.  Over the months, dedicated support from locals and online through social media has helped make her business blossom. 

“As the business has grown, we’ve hired people, we have more providers now, more clients are coming in, it’s been wonderful,” Spivey said. 

Small businesses are at the core of central Florida and the country’s economy.  While many of them were hit hard in the pandemic, Dr. Eboni Rainey with Black Business Orlando said their success will be vital to helping the community recover long-term.  

“We make the economy thrive, without small businesses we would not be where we’re at today,” said Dr. Eboni Rainey, Executive Leadership Board member with Black Business Orlando. 

Black Business Orlando is a Facebook group that reaches more than 22,000 people in the Orlando and Central Florida community. Their online platform has grown tremendously since launching the group in 2014 by seeking to help connect the community to black-owned businesses in the area. They help the more than 500 Black-owned businesses in town to stand out by helping highlight their business, Rainey said, and can make them easy to find through searchable directories on their website, even able to help connect businesses with existing programs to make sure their business can thrive. 

During Small Business Week, Rainey said that spotlight is needed more than ever.

 “We have a lack of resources, lack of knowledge about the resources. So to come together as one, whether you’re a full-time entrepreneur, business owner, part-time entrepreneur, whatnot, we’re coming together to provide that information or that education,” Rainey said. 

After finding success after her opening last May, Spivey is now planning out her one-year anniversary celebration for her business. Spivey said she's she’s grateful to have grown her business to this point, especially in the middle of the pandemic and happy to have the help and support from the community behind her. 

“Small businesses don’t really have the structure to withstand things like what happened last year. So I think, well I know that the support from the community makes all the difference,” Spivey said.