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Weekly Column: Small Business Saturday, But Pro-Growth Policies All Year

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For the second straight year, the United States Senate has designated the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday. The idea is simple: highlight and encourage all of us to shop at locally-owned small businesses. Last year's resolution seemed to quite literally pay off, as there was a big increase in shoppers at locally-owned small businesses.

Both years I have co-sponsored the resolution in order to recognize the positive impacts small businesses make on our communities and the nation's economy. Small Business Saturday has joined Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the post-Thanksgiving shopping pantheon. That is fitting because small business, large enterprises and online commerce all have a critical role to play in our 21st-century economy.

It is good to encourage Ohio consumers to shop at our local retail small businesses, but it is much more important that Washington create a broader climate of success and growth for those businesses

That is especially important in this weak economy. As a small business owner myself, I understand some the pressures these businesses are facing. There is tremendous uncertainty over taxes and regulations in the new year, both of which have a big impact on small businesses. Rising health care costs, food costs and uncertainty over energy costs make it even tougher.

And at a time when unemployment is stuck just below 8 percent and projected to rise to 9 percent next year, when there are nearly 21 million unemployed and underemployed Americans, there is no challenge more important than getting small businesses back on their feet. They employ about one-half of all American workers, and as they've done in previous recoveries, successful small businesses can truly serve as engines of job creation to put millions back to work.

The best way to address these challenges is to put in place pro-growth policies that will finally jumpstart the economy for small businesses.

First, small businesses deserve fiscal discipline that gets Washington's deficits and debt under control as they're a wet blanket on the economy. Second, small businesses deserve tax reform to spur growth. Third, they deserve regulatory relief to lighten the burdens that are making them less competitive and keeping them from growing and hiring new workers. Fourth, they deserve reform of the federal government's antiquated worker retraining programs, to give them a workforce with the tools needed compete in the 21st century. Fifth, they deserve export promotion that gives their products entry to markets around the world. Sixth, they deserve a national energy plan that ensures them access to secure, reliable and affordable domestic energy. And seventh, they deserve health care that actually lowers costs and puts their employees in charge -- not the government. They don't deserve piles of more paperwork to comply with.

This Thanksgiving weekend, as we think of what we are thankful for, we should add America's small businessmen and women to the list for their hard work, risk-taking and ingenuity. Small businesses are poised to help lead us back to a stronger economy with more jobs and higher take-home pay, if only Washington would help create a better environment for success.

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