SMALL BUSINESSES ARE VITAL TO THE ECONOMY

Small businesses in America are vital to the US economy. They employ half of all private sector employees, pay 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll and employ half of all private sector employees. They are crucial to the solvency of our economic system. They are usually there when we need them and they often go beyond the call of duty.

Many of our readers experienced a major catastrophic flood event last August 2009. There were numerous individuals and organizations who came from far and wide to assist the local flood victims materially, socially, and physically. Supplying aid and assistance to the victims were, among others, many of our local small businesses some of whom were flood victims themselves. Unselfishly, they rendered time and substance to their neighbors in distress. What a powerful demonstration of "doing unto others."

What would we do without the small businesses in our communities? There are 22.9 million small businesses in the United States and they are located in virtually every neighborhood in this great Country of ours. They serve a strategic role in the dynamism of the backbone of the American economy. Small businesses, many of which are family operations, provide nearly two of every three new jobs; produce 39 percent of the gross national product and invent more than half the nation's technological innovation. Our history points to these small businesses which provided in the past , as they do today, dynamic opportunity for the working population. In fact, small businesses create more than 59 percent of the non farm private gross domestic product (GDP). They are women and men brimming with creative ideas and possess aspirations of entrepreneurial possibility thinking. These individuals are willing to think outside of the box. It was General George S. Patton who said "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

In the business world, there are no certain guarantees. Today when consumer spending is tight, small business owners and the self-employed face extraordinarily demanding challenges to make ends meet. Increased costs of doing business, government red tape, and increased bureaucratic regulations, make it tougher than ever for small businesses to compete and succeed. In short, the backbone of our business economy has been twisted out of shape by numerous mandated regulations.

In the business world, there are no certain guarantees. Beginning or maintaining a small business presents creative opportunities while at the same time unique challenges. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50 percent fail in the first year and 95 percent fail within the first five years. And yet, never before have the innovation and ingenuity of American small business owners and their employees been so critically significant to the nation's economy.

As we see it, small businesses face increasingly restrictive federal and state regulations which hamper productivity and stifle job creation. Complying with unreasonable amounts of paperwork, bureaucratic red tape and outdated rules is not the way to help America's small employers compete in the world marketplace. Congress must work to make recent tax relief provisions permanent. While cutting taxes across -the- board will allow small business owners to invest more in their companies, there must be a way to eliminate the business-destroying death tax.

Still anther priority is limiting abusive lawsuits that are draining resources from small businesses--resources that could be used to invest in jobs, salaries and benefits. Nearly every small business owner, with whom I have spoken, cites the risk of frivolous lawsuits, massive legal expense and liability insurance costs. And if that isn't enough, health insurance premiums have increased by double digits, putting a severe strain on small business owners and their employees. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 25 million small business owners, employees and their families are without health insurance. To address this problem, Congress should expand the availability of Association Health Plans. These plans allow small business groups to pool their health care resources together through trade associations to lower costs and offer a wider array of health care options.

It is our hope that the State Legislatures, the Congress, and the American people, will address these issues and soon. The future of many small business establishments and independent entrepreneurs are running dangerously close to the financial edge. Next time you have a chance, look over your nearby community. Observe the hardware, local carpenter and plumber, the grocery store and the farmer. Notice the auto and small engine repair shop, the electrician and the small manufacturer, the furniture dealer, the local pharmacy, the card and gift shop, the lumber mill and the logger, or the local radio station and newspaper, and home operated business. You will see small business owners and their employees working tirelessly to be what all of us hope to achieve. "Thank you" small business owners and personnel. You help to fulfill the great American dream and exceptionalism at its best! That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.