American Express has joined over a dozen advocacy groups in an effort to celebrate America's small business owners on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Although most shoppers raid big box stores for bargains on Black Friday, American Express OPEN encourages gift givers to spend some time in locally-owned businesses during the holiday season.

The "Small Business Saturday" initiative launched this week on social networking websites to help participants spread the word about the impact of local spending. American Express Cardmembers can enroll their cards for a special Small Business Saturday promotion. The first 100,000 Cardmembers who use their enrolled cards at participating small businesses on Small Business Saturday will receive a $25 statement credit.

According to the advocacy group The 3/50 Project, $68 of every $100 spent in small businesses remains in the community. Likewise, government officials estimate that small businesses created nearly two-thirds of all new American jobs over the past two decades. Describing his passion for the initiative, American Express Chairman and CEO Ken Chenault told reporters, "we can help raise awareness about the critical role small businesses play in cities and towns across the country at a time when they need support the most."

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Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.