Within the past twenty-four hours, I went to our local grocery, the local pharmacy and hardware store. I stopped by at the local shoe store to buy a pair of outdoor work shores. I went to the local clothing store to buy an outdoor work jacket, and on my way, I stopped at the local filling station and filled my car with fuel. Also, I went to the local furniture store to buy a lamp for my wife's birthday.Then, I noticed that our car was in need of inspection, so I stopped at the local vehicle repair shop to have the inspection. While it was being inspected, I stopped by the local restaurant to have a quick cup of coffee. Yesterday, the local plumber came to repair a leaking water pipe and the local small engine repair shop stopped by to pick up my tractor lawn mower and earth tiller for a spring tune up. Later today, I need to stop at our local greenhouse to purchase some plants for the garden. Earlier this week, my wife had an appointment with our local physician, and next week, I am scheduled to see our local dentist. And, if I am fortunate, our local editor will accept this article for publication in our local newspaper. Needless to say, it is busy in our local community... a virtual treasure trove of active local businesses.

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 possessing aspirations of entrepreneurial possibility thinking.

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, stifle job creation, and constrain the American standard of living. Complying with unreasonable amounts of paperwork, a tedious tax code, bureaucratic red tape and outdated rules is not the way to help America's small employers compete in the world marketplace. While cutting taxes will allow small business owners to invest more in their companies and provide an incentive to produce, there must be a way to eliminate the vast amount of government involvement in the economy.

Still another 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 we 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. Hopefully, 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 and see uncompromising integrity at work. Observe the hardware, local carpenter and plumber, the grocery store and the farmer. Notice the auto and small engine repair shop, banks, box stores, the electrician and the small manufacturer, the furniture dealer, the local pharmacy, the maple syrup establishment, the lumber mill and the logger. And note,we have the local radio station and newspaper, and home operated businesses, professional offices, and independent entrepreneurs. We are fortunate indeed!

The truth is, daily you see small business owners and their employees working tirelessly to provide the services, goods, products demanded by an appreciative public. "Thank you" small business owners and personnel. You help to fulfill the great American dream and exceptionalism at its best!