Small businesses are a large part of the American tradition, andstill play a vital role in the U.S. economy. Consider: In 2011there were 28.2 million small businesses in the U.S., accountingfor 99.7% of America's employers; comparatively, there are only17,700 firms with 500 employees or more, according to the U.S.Small Business Administration (SBA).

In fact, small business employers—defined by the SBA's Office ofAdvocacy as those independent businesses with fewer than 500employees—are the ones driving the nation's economic recovery.Small firms accounted for 63% of the net new private-sector jobscreated between 1993 and mid-2013—or 14.3 million of the 22.9million net new jobs, the SBA says. Since the end of the GreatRecession (mid-2009 to mid-2013), small firms accounted for 60% ofthe net new jobs.

With that sort of clout—and because many independent agenciesare small businesses themselves—the insuranceindustry can't affordto ignore this powerful market niche.

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