Op-EdAppeared in OC Register on May 6, 2019By Elaine Parker

Celebrate entrepreneurs during National Small Business Week

This is an important week for all Americans who rely on small businesses — it’s National Small Business Week. In addition to supporting small businesses in your central Illinois community, it presents a great opportunity to learn about the essential role small business entrepreneurs and their employees play in our economy.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States — which employ nearly 60 million people.

For the past decade, small businesses have been responsible for creating two-thirds of all net new jobs, empowering local economies nationwide. Not a lot of large businesses would open a location in a town of a few thousand people, yet you can’t go anywhere in America without running across a small business. They are the hallmark and cornerstone of Main Street.

Last year, small business owners received a much-needed boost in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, ushering in a red-hot economy. With more money in their coffers, small businesses have been able to invest in growth and their employees. The macro-economic indicators show the progress.

Using the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday, the unemployment rate has hit 3.6 percent — the lowest level in five decades — 5.8 million jobs have been created since the 2016 election and wages have been rising at a rate of 3% or higher for the last nine months. Moreover, manufacturing jobs are finally on the upswing and blue collar workers are experiencing greater wage gains than their supervisors.

It’s clear the rising economic tide is lifting all boats.

As an anecdotal example, take a look at small business entrepreneur Guy Berkebile — owner of Guy Chemical located in rural Pennsylvania and member of the Job Creators Network. Because of the tax cuts and the resulting robust economy, his business has been able to create 29 new jobs, raise wages, expand bonuses and begin offering a 401k program to all employees.

Success stories like these are taking place at small businesses from coast to coast. It’s a testament to the prosperity that can arise when driven entrepreneurs are supported by a strong economy and sound free market policies.

However, threats to these small business entrepreneurs and the prosperity they spur lurk behind every corner.

Policy proposals — such as the $15 minimum wage in Illinois — will increase operational costs and prompt layoffs and business closures. Not only will this harm small businesses — which operate under tight budget constraints — but the millions of entry-level workers who are in search of an opportunity to gain job experience will also feel the squeeze.

Our economy needs less government to continue the upward climb, not more. If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s when businesses are unshackled from high taxes and red tape, amazing things can happen.

While small businesses play a vital role all year round, National Small Business Week is a great opportunity for Americans to reflect on how much we cherish the small businesses in our communities. In that spirit, we must work to ensure they are able to continue supporting Main Streets across the country and breathing life into the American Dream.