By Claire West

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) will give the Liberal Democrat Party a taste into the life of a small firm at its party political conference this week, to highlight the importance of small businesses to the local community.

With more than half (56%) of small business sales coming from customers in the local area, the FSB will tell conference delegates at an FSB fringe event titled 'Keep Trade Local: is it high noon for the high street?', that supporting local entrepreneurs creates more opportunities for communities to grow - key to putting the UK economy firmly on the path to recovery.

Launching the FSB's revamped Keep Trade Local (KTL) manifesto, the FSB's National Chairman John Walker will join Stephen Gilbert MP, Member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Deputy Liberal Democrat Leader, at the fringe event.

Using data from the FSB survey panel, conference delegates
will also have the chance to win a tin of jelly babies - a
'mini survey panel' - at the FSB's exhibition stand. The quiz, 'Small Business Fortunes', is based on the issues that face the FSB 'Voice of Small Business' survey panel, to see if delegates know what our survey says.

The FSB will also use the conference to urge the coalition
Government to include FSB members on Local Enterprise
Partnerships (LEP)
and ensure that LEPs have a clear vision for generating business growth.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small
Businesses, said:

"Small businesses are not just part of the local community, they are the local community. They generate wealth, employment and opportunity. In 2009 19,077 businesses closed, compared to 15,535 in 2008 and 12,507 in 2007. We must not let this trend continue and this is why we are relaunching our KTL campaign.

"Small businesses rely on customers in their local area to survive, but equally communities depend on successful local businesses. Small firms must be at the heart of the LEP decision making process building this vision for the future. The FSB is the only national business organisation that is
truly member-led and it is vital that our members - the local businesses supporting the local economy - have their interests fully represented."