Small businesses drive the economy; they need support to thrive

It has been my distinct privilege to serve these past two years as chairman of the Small Business Council of the United Chamber of Commerce. In this position, I speak on behalf of the 32 million small businesses across the nation, regardless of whether they are members.

I chaired my final session of the Small Business Council this past month in Salt Lake City, where I passed the torch to Natalie Kaddas, who leads a second-generation, family-owned manufacturing business in Utah.

In my role as chairman, I led our council to help small businesses have a voice on the national stage, including (if not especially) small businesses in Texas and in North Texas.

I have seen how small business owners have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, and the Small Business Council has taken the lead in communicating how our small businesses continue to play a critical role in a recovering economy through the advocacy and engagement efforts of the U.S. Chamber.

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The Small Business Council’s priorities for 2022 are to:

  • Provide information and resources for small businesses to thrive in this post-pandemic economy
  • Provide resources to enhance the ability of small businesses to find, hire, and retain qualified and willing employees, and continue to grow their skills
  • Oppose all workplace mandates that disproportionately raise the cost of doing business for small businesses
  • Advance policy that expands access to credit for small firms

During my years serving on the Small Business Council, and particularly these past two years as chairman, I have focused on ensuring that legislation that sounds good does not deliver hidden agendas or unintended consequences that disadvantage small businesses.

For example, I have read legislation that has supported the ability of small businesses to compete for government contracts – particularly with the newly enacted infrastructure legislation – only to discover that that the requirements to qualify were so onerous that only major corporations with large staffs could even complete the applications.

We need our state and federal governments to level the playing field, removing politics from the considerations, by giving opportunities to small businesses. These government officials need to remember that virtually every major corporation began in a garage, or a basement, or in a parent’s home.

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Large corporations exist because once-small businesses created niches and thrived.

As an entrepreneur myself, I have committed to help create opportunities for entrepreneurial small businesses to have a seat at the table as long as they are able to compete in regard to innovation and fulfillment.

Small businesses can act faster than major corporations. Enterprising entrepreneurs can have a concept ready and develop a prototype faster because they are leaner and meaner, and because they don’t have to worry about next quarter’s earnings and today’s stock price.

Such is the beauty of small business.

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I have been thankful that the Small Business Administration was able to save hundreds of thousands of our small businesses through administration of the PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs that helped so many small businesses survive the pandemic through low-interest loans. The US Chamber, SCORE, and local chambers of commerce played a crucial role in guiding small business owners through the challenging pathways of securing these lifelines.

Another of the US Chamber’s priorities has been to support the opportunities for small companies to buy and sell goods on a global market without risking intellectual property abuses and restrictive tariffs. The Chamber knows that this issue is facing new scrutiny with the closed doors to buy and sell to Russia and the concerns of intellectual property potentially being compromised by other nations. The Chamber reminds us that as those markets close, others will open, including many  that we had not previously considered as thoroughly.

Small business is the most powerful variable in the success or failure of our economy. So: Long live the entrepreneur!

Ian MacLean is owner of Highland Landscaping Construction in Southlake. He recently completed his term as chairman of the Small Business Council of the United States Chamber of Commerce, a position in which he offered his views as “the voice of small business in America.