By Rep. Sam Graves
Nearly half of all Americans in the private sector workforce have a firsthand appreciation of the value of small businesses to our economy. Why? Because they work for one.
We all benefit greatly from the 28 million small firms that underpin the nation's economy. They are innovators, responsible for 16 times more patents per employee than large companies. They help competitively drive down prices for consumers. And they are our nation's best job creators.
First recognized under President John F. Kennedy, this is the 50th annual National Small Business Week, and it is a time to show appreciation all across the country to the small businesses that are your neighbors. Their dedication and entrepreneurial spirit helps build more than just their businesses; it builds up the country.
National Small Business Week falls this year on an economy that is in limbo. There are reasons for optimism, but the nation's job market has been largely underwhelming for years now, with 11.8 million Americans unemployed and another 7.9 million that can't find full-time work. And U.S. manufacturing declined in April to the lowest level in four years, according to The Institute for Supply Management. An expanding small business economy is essential to providing millions more Americans with the jobs they need.
This week is a great time to shop small business. It's also good time to take a look at what is really working for the small business economy, and what isn't. Can the country do better? I emphatically believe that the economy has tremendous potential for growth and job creation. In recent years, small businesses have been doing a great job overcoming obstacles, first riding out the recession and now holding their own in a very slow recovery.
The federal government has a role in setting the economic climate in which small companies either thrive or struggle. Right now, the balance is off. We hear about it from small business owners all over the country. They testify in our hearings, respond to surveys and volunteer comments on our website's "Small Biz Open Mic." They're facing burdens and uncertainties which make them less able to take the tremendous risk of expanding and hiring.
The requirements of the health care law topped the list of small business concerns in the most recent quarterly survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In the midst of a slow recovery, small businesses must grapple with rising health care costs and the many mandates of the new law.
Bureaucracies have also taken on growing roles in their business decisions. In a 2010 SBA study, they found that small firms bear a regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee, which is 36% higher than the cost of regulatory compliance for large businesses. But small firms are not set up with the personnel and expertise to deal with a mounting regulatory burden. Most will say they need a break from all the new red tape.
Finally, in the same Chamber of Commerce survey, owners of small firms overwhelmingly (8 in 10) support comprehensive reform and simplification of the tax code.
Although the Small Business Committee focuses on the needs of small companies every week, we are holding a special hearing on American manufacturing this week. We've invited owners of small manufacturing firms to Congress to share their stories and outline what Washington should do to help companies like theirs grow and create jobs.
America's economy will only go as far as our small businesses will take them. They are the engines of job creation and economic growth, so policies should reflect that truth.
Now is the time to help these small firms grow by working for lower taxes and a simpler code, fewer and less burdensome regulations, and new opportunities to compete and grow.