WASHINGTON — Main street merchants are getting a boost from political leaders this year who are eagerly embracing "Small Business Saturday."

WASHINGTON — Main street merchants are getting a boost from political leaders this year who are eagerly embracing “Small Business Saturday.”

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a proclamation endorsing “Small Business Saturday” as a way to keep our local economies strong. The Senate had unanimously approved a resolution earlier in the month supporting the private-sector effort to get Americans to shop locally on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, and John Boozman, a Republican, were among the bipartisan co-sponsors of the resolution. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, is also celebrating “Small Business Saturday.” He plans to be at Tucker’s Furniture and Appliance in downtown Rogers on Saturday afternoon to draw the raffle winner for a new car.

Pryor says that this holiday season could be “a make it or break it time” for many small business owners struggling in a bad economic cycle.

“That’s why I’d like to encourage Arkansans who have the opportunity to do some holiday shopping to visit their local small businesses,” Pryor says. J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Womack, said that the congressman believes small businesses are “the backbone of our economy” which is why events like Small Business Saturday are “incredibly worthwhile.”

Last year, 212 million shoppers spent $45 billion during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. National retailers have long promoted “Black Friday” as the day shoppers can score great bargains. Internet merchants countered with “Cyber Monday” as their alternative.

American Express OPEN, the company’s small business division, launched “Small Business Saturday” in 2010 to encourage shopping at local retail stores. The promotion seemed to work last year. American Express said their small-business merchants saw a 28 percent rise in volume that Saturday compared to a year earlier.

Karen Mills, the head of the Small Business Administration, said Wednesday that she and other members of the Obama administration would be out Saturday promoting local merchants.

“We are encouraging everyone to visit a small business on Saturday to perhaps make a purchase,” she said.

Mills plans to visit the farmers market in Brunswick, Maine on Saturday to purchase blueberry jam for gifts. She will then head to Boston to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new small business.

“Everyone knows that your dollar goes a long way at when you buy a product or service from a small business. That money goes right back into the local economy. And that’s important, because half of working Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create two out of every three new jobs,” Mills said.