Small Business Owners Testify Before Small Business Committee



On Wednesday morning, the Committee on Small Business conducted a hearing, Making Washington Work For America’s Small Businesses, centered on providing small business owners with the opportunity to “outline their priorities and provide the Committee with ideas about federal policies that will help them most grow their businesses.”

Committee Chairman Steve Chabot began the hearing with opening remarks during which he stated, “We constantly remind folks about how important small businesses are to the American economy. We remind people that they make up 99 percent of all firms, that 48 percent of the people working today work for a small business, that they account for 46 percent of our gross national product. We do this because it’s important. We have to continue to shout it from the rooftops because too often, some folks here in Washington take small businesses for granted.”

Committee Member and Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10) followed by detailing the difficulties small businesses face and the importance of bipartisan collaboration in the process of making a better tomorrow for small business owners. Schneider stated, “Simplifying the tax code would give small businesses greater certainty and allow them to spend their time and resources on what they do best, creating new jobs in their own local communities. I am grateful that we are here today to learn how Congress can serve the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs so they can help grow our economy. The difficulty will be identifying tangible, bipartisan solutions we can all get behind and hopefully implement.”

The hearing featured testimony from small business owners Maxine Turner, Founder, Cuisine Unlimited, testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Anne Chambers, Co-Founder and CEO, Red212, testifying on behalf of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP); Rutland Paal, Owner, Rutland Beard Floral Group, testifying on behalf of the Society of American Florists; and David Borris, Owner, Hel’s Kitchen Catering, testifying on behalf of the Main Street Alliance, who shared suggestions and concerns for the future of small business. Below are some excerpts from these powerful testimonies.

Maxine Turner

“We were awarded the exclusive catering contract at our performing arts center. It required an investment to equip three kitchen onsite with smallwares. We met with several banks and our SBA representative. We have had four very successful loans with SBA; all we paid ahead of schedule. The bottom line, we were turned away by all the banks. How could we fulfill our obligation to this contract without financial backing? We looked to other sources and learned of a grant offered by our city. We applied and received one-third of the necessary funds. We made do, equipping only one of those kitchens, and used the smallwares that we had existing in our catering operation. We used much of our profits from 2016 to purchase critical items with the hope that 2017 will see us through any additional challenges. My story is not unique. It simply should not be this hard for businesses to get access to the capital they need.

Anne Chambers

“First and foremost is tax reform. For far too long, small businesses have struggled with the cost of compliance and we’ve paid far higher taxes than large business, higher rates.”

“Health reform is another issue constantly on our minds. The primary concern here is that any changes made to the current system take into account the impact on the small group market. Without the ability to pool, small businesses do not have the market clout to buy insurance.”

We recommend that Congress take the following steps. First, support SBA programs that provide women business owners with the business assistance they need to obtain capital, such as Women’s Business Centers, SBDCs and SCORE. Second, continue to support SBA loan programs, again, as Maxine pointed out the importance of these. We encourage you to modernize the microloan program, which has proven to be an important source of capital for women-owned businesses. As this Committee is well aware, WIPP fought for access to federal contracts through the WOSB Procurement Program for 15 years. Although great strides have been made with respect to accessing federal contracts, much more remains to be done. In 2016, WIPP published a report, Do Not Enter, which showed that women lack access to the government’s largest contracts, Multiple Award Contracts, MACs. We’re calling on Congress to require SBA to do a study of all MACs and determine to what extent women and other socioeconomic groups have tracks which allow them to compete for these large contracts. Last but certainly not least, compliance with regulations is part of doing business. We certainly appreciate the efforts by this Committee to increase the SBA’s Office of Advocacy’s clout, as this will result in an amplification of our voice.”

Rutland Paal

“Payroll taxes are simple. Straightforward to calculate and easy to plan for. We need something just as uncomplicated for corporate and pass-through taxes. While I highly commend efforts to reform our tax code, the border adjustment proposal would be devastating to my business. Nearly 95 percent of the flowers I use in my retail flower shops are grown overseas. There is no domestic capacity to meet the demand. Flowers are not a necessity like food, clothing or housing. If our products are taxed at a higher rate, those costs will translate to higher prices, and consumers will shift their spending to other products where flowers have traditionally been appropriate. I ask that any border adjustment and tax reform exempt floral agricultural products to avoid significant harm to the more than 10,000 small flower shops across the country. There also needs to be certainty in legislation and regulation that allow small business owners to properly plan and prepare. The current environment creates economic chaos where we are unable to plan for payroll, benefits or growth.”

David Borris

“Finally, what businesses like mine require more than anything from our federal government are evidence-based policies that keep overall consumer demand strong. The single most important thing I need to be successful and to create more jobs is more customers. Not tax breaks, not fewer regulations, customers. Customers with enough disposable income to engage my services. The health of my business is tied to a healthy economy that has money circulating in a virtuous cycle of rising wages, consumer demand and job creation. To do this, we should raise the federal minimum wage.”

In closing, I believe the role of Washington is to create the basic market conditions that allow small business like mine to thrive and compete on a level playing field with our larger competitors. We cannot continue to be the job creators and innovators that America needs us to be without these basic conditions. Affordable quality healthcare, sensible protective regulations and policies that fuel a strong middle class. This is the recipe for small business success.”

As the Committee website articulates, the priority setting hearing will be used to inform advocacy efforts, future committee hearings and legislative priorities for the Committee on Small Business for the 115th Congress. As the backbone of the economy, small businesses need a business environment in which they can compete fairly with larger competition; these entrepreneurs are valuable members of society who move the country forward one community at a time.

Become a member of NAWRB today! LEARN MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *