Profile America — Saturday, March 29th. While openings of a major department store or a branch of a big-box chain are often welcomed by shoppers and communities, they are also the cause of some concern. Small local businesses face greater competition, yet those small businesses are an outsized engine of economic growth. Additionally, they are important distinguishing features in local communities. That's why today is Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. In 2008, there were nearly 29 million business firms in the U.S., over 21 million of them without paid employees, and with an additional 3.5 million shops having four or fewer workers. The Census Bureau will update the numbers next year after surveying some 1.75 million enterprises, a large percentage of them in the "mom and pop" category. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.