Weekly Columns

The Importance of Small Businesses

f t # e
Washington, May 3, 2017 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

The American Dream is built on an individual’s ability to become entrepreneurs, take risks and build a small business that can thrive and grow. As we celebrate National Small Business Week, and as a former small business owner myself, I am aware of the many challenges these entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. It is estimated that 99 percent of all businesses with employees in the United States are small businesses, which further underscores their importance to our economy. That’s exactly why I make it a priority to visit small businesses across the First District of Tennessee to hear directly about their successes and challenges.

Did you know there are more than 29 million small businesses in the United States responsible for creating 63 percent of new jobs? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Tennessee small businesses employed 1.1 million people in 2014 and saw a 5 percent increase in employment in 2016. Every year we have an opportunity to celebrate the role small businesses play in America and, specifically, in East Tennessee.

But we are also facing a very significant challenge. According to research done by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), small business creation has dropped significantly, and is becoming more heavily concentrated. Between the economic recovery from 1983-87, 491,600 businesses were added nationwide; from 2002-06, 271,100 firms were added; but from 2010-14, only 104,600 businesses were added nationwide. EIG also points out in their report that business creation in just five metropolitan areas – New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas - had the same amount of business creation as the rest of the United States combined. When so many of my friends and neighbors ask me why they don’t see more signs of the economic recovery, this is why.

Last month, I visited several businesses around the First District to learn about the work they are doing to produce more jobs, improve the economy, and quite frankly, where they are lacking support from the federal government. As your Congressman, I believe one of the most important things I can do for small businesses is to ensure their needs are considered in any policies developed by Congress and the administration. 

One of the most consistent things I hear from people who are thinking about taking the risk of starting their own business is that government regulations have made it too hard to get an idea off the ground. When government starts standing in the way of the American Dream, we need to rethink how our government acts, and I’m proud to be working with President Trump in significantly curtailing some of the most burdensome regulations that have been produced. We’ve already passed and signed into law 13 resolutions that cancel regulations from the previous administration. We’re working to repeal Obamacare, which relies on government bureaucrats to manage health care, and replace it with a patient-centered, free-market alternative. And just this week, the Financial Services Committee began work on legislation to reform Dodd-Frank banking regulations, which have had the harmful effect of denying capital to many new small businesswomen and men.

Earlier this year, I also proudly cosponsored and supported H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which empowers small businesses and workers by allowing them to band together and offer coverage through association health plans. This legislation paves the way for a more competitive health care marketplace with lower costs for small businesses.  Most small businesses, especially those in our region, work hard to provide competitive benefits to their employees. We should encourage them to continue doing this, not push employers into a system they cannot afford – forcing many of them to cut jobs and other benefits.

I am a proud supporter of small businesses in our country, especially those in Tennessee, and I will continue to support legislation in Congress to empower job creators in the private sector. Many of us know someone who owns or operates a small business, and I hope you’ll remember them and their contributions to our economy during National Small Business Week. 

As always, feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family. 
f t # e