Small Business

Small Businesses Remain Wary About the Economy

By | Economy, Small Business | No Comments

Despite some progress in overall economic conditions since the recess, small business owners remain anxious about the economy. These concerns have had real impacts on the smaller firms’ willingness to invest in their businesses, hire additional workers, or seek additional capital.

Given that smaller businesses have traditionally led economic growth coming out of a recession, the fact that this is not happening this time around is hampering employment and economic growth. Two recent surveys have highlighted this fact.

First, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted it’s annual Small Business Outlook Survey. Nearly half of small businesses, defined as those with under $25 million in annual sales, felt that economic uncertainty was their top concern. Other top challenges included fiscal efforts to address the federal deficit and debt, government regulations and the Health Care law.

In addition, 64 percent intended to keep the same number of employees over the next year, with 19 percent planning additional hiring. Interestingly, despite negative views on the national economy, almost two-third report that their own businesses are “on the right track.”

Earlier today, the National Federation of Independent Business released its Small Business Optimism Index, which fell from 90.9 in May to 90.8 in June. While virtually the same as the previous month, the index reflects continued wariness on the part of small business owners. Over half of the respondents who suggested that the next six months were not a good time to expand, said that economic conditions were the reason. The top concern remains “poor sales.”

Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.

Manufacturers, Business Community Weigh in on Debt Limit

By | America's Business, Economy, Small Business, Taxation | No Comments

The clock is ticking. Lawmakers have less than a month before the August 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, and we’re just days away from the President’s July 22 target date for a deal.

What happens in the coming days will have significant impact on the country’s economic future. With the stakes so high, almost 500 business organizations today sent a letter to the White House and the Capitol urging policymakers to reach a fiscally responsible agreement.

From the letter:

[I]t is critical that the US government not default in any way on its fiscal obligations. A great nation – like a great company – has to be relied upon to pay its debts when they become due. This is a Main Street not Wall Street issue. Treasury securities influence the cost of financing not just for companies but more importantly for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and student debt. A default would risk both disarray in those markets and a host of unintended consequences. The debt ceiling trigger does offer a needed catalyst for serious negotiations on budget discipline but avoiding even a technical default is essential. This is a risk our country must not take.

The letter also calls on lawmakers to take steps to stabilize our $14 trillion-dollar debt and rein in deficit spending.  Lawmakers will have to make difficult choices, but they should not sacrifice economic growth by raising taxes on job creators.  NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons made that point recently, saying,

Manufacturers are urging our elected officials to work together to bring down our federal deficit by taking a hard look at government programs and making difficult     decisions to cut spending, especially in the entitlement area, without increasing the tax   burden on manufacturing or any individual manufacturing sector.

Americans are concerned about the nation’s unsustainable debt and anemic job growth.  Congress and the President can address both issues in the debt ceiling negotiations by making difficult decisions to cut spending and reform government programs and rejecting tax increases that would stifle job creation.

Senate Holds Panama FTA Hearing

By | America's Business, Economy, General, Small Business, Trade | No Comments

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement this morning.  Watch the hearing here.

The Committee heard testimony from NAM member Jason Speer, vice president and general manager of Quality Float Works.  Jason had just returned from Panama, so he was able to offer a particularly informed perspective about what the trade agreement would mean for manufacturers.

Jason also spoke with the NAM while he was in Washington:

It’s a Tax Increase on Small Business

By | Small Business, Taxation | No Comments

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) appeared on Face the Nation on Sunday, making a basic point about tax rates and the President’s renewed call for higher taxes.

If you have really high tax rates what you end up doing is you penalize small businesses. What you have to remember Bob, most successful small businesses file their taxes as individuals. Most of our jobs come from these small businesses. The president is proposing to raise the top tax rate on these small businesses to 44.8 percent. We don’t think that’s good for jobs, we don’t think that’s good for economic growth, and when we tax our employers a whole lot more than our foreign competitors tax theirs, we lose, they win, and we don’t want that.

Two things, number one: We don’t have a tax problem. Our revenues are going back to where they have been historically. We have a big spending problem…The president’s proposing $1.5 trillion in tax increases, the Democrats in congress are proposing anywhere from $2-16 trillion in tax increases based on the three budgets they brought to the floor the other day…Here’s what we’re trying to get: Spending cuts and controls to get spending under control — because that’s the problem — and economic growth and job creation. We don’t want to give up one to get the other.”

Via The Corner, National Review Online.

Spending Bill: No Czars, But Manufacturing Extension Partnership

By | Innovation, Small Business | 5 Comments

Searching for the word “manufacturing” in Thursday’s House floor debate on H.R. 1473, the continuing resolution, that passed by a vote of 260-167, we find first the section that eliminates funding for White House “czars.”

Sec. 2262. None of the funds made available by this division may be used to pay the salaries and expenses for the following positions:

(1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform.

(2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

(3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.

(4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.

The Detroit Free Press observes, “In the case of the car czar — actually the senior advisor to the secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and senior counselor for manufacturing policy — it hardly matters: Ron Bloom, who held the job, moved to the National Economic Council earlier this year, so it’s vacant.”

On another topic, Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-PA) complimented Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who chairs the Commerce, Science, Justice activities in the continuing resolution. From Congressinal Record, Page H2742:

Notwithstanding the very challenging fiscal circumstances, Chairman Wolf has worked towards a set of priorities that will help move our country forward, and I thank him for working with me on a bipartisan basis.

I want to point out our highest priority within that section of the Commerce Department, which is that of the Manufacturing and Extension Partnerships, which will see an increase above the 2010 enacted and also the Senate amendment, or H.R. 1. I am very pleased about that.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) operates out of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, working with state partnerships to provide business planning services and technical advice to small businesses. Read More

Circumnetting the National Association of Manufacturers

By | Small Business, Taxation | No Comments
  • In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad will moderate a forum on manufacturing for Republican presidential can

    Gov. Terry Branstad

    didates in Pella on Nov. 1. The National Association of Manufacturers and Vermeer Corp. are sponsoring the forum, which will be held at Vermeer’s headquarters. (NAM news release.)
    Mary Andringa is president of Vermeer and chairman of the board of the National Association of Manufacturers. From

“Manufacturing is vital to the American economy, and we expect issues that affect manufacturers – from tax reform to energy security to job growth – to play a central role in the presidential election,” Andringa said. “We look forward to welcoming the candidates to Vermeer and learning about their visions for keeping manufacturing in America strong.”

  • There’s more to the McClatchy Newspapers’ article than the shocking headline would let on, “No easy solutions for U.S. deficit.” (Next: “Economy poses problems.”) The story analyzes the tax elements of the deficit-reduction debate, i.e., when is a loophole really a special-interest tax break versus sound economic policy. And how is that both House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and President Obama can both support a top corporate tax rate of 25 percent?

“‘It’s easy for business in general to rally around a 25 percent rate, or a lower rate, but when you get to (tax) base broadening, that’s where it’s going to be very tricky,’ said Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax policy for the influential National Association of Manufacturers.”

Repeal It Already: The Onerous 1099 Filing Requirement

By | Health Care, Small Business, Taxation | No Comments

The U.S. Senate is expected this afternoon to take up H.R. 4, the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act, which is a very long title for the bill to repeal the ridiculous filing requirement included in last year’s health care bill.

The National Association of Manufacturers last week sent Senators a “Key Vote” letter urging their support for an amendment by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) that mirrors H.R. 4. From the NAM letter:

The Johanns amendment would repeal expanded reporting requirements under Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). Section 9006 requires businesses to file an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form 1099 for all purchases of property and services in excess of $600. Previously, businesses were required to report only purchases of service and only from non-corporate entities. The new language essentially requires 1099 reporting for all transactions in excess of $600.

This reporting requirement is extremely onerous — especially for small manufacturers. The NAM supports efforts to ensure tax compliance, but not at the expense of manufacturers that are following the law.

The House passed H.R. 4 on March 3 by a vote of 314-112. The Senate has already cast this vote, more or less, when Senators voted 81-17 in early February to pass an amendment sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to S. 223, the FAA reauthorization bill.

So the clear majority is there for fixing this ill-conceived, anti-small-business provision in the health care law. Let’s pass this bill and send it to the President.

UPDATE (1:14 p.m.): The bill has passed, 87-12. We’ll post the roll call vote once it’s available. (UPDATE II: And here it is.)

The bill now goes to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

Hours of Service Rules Would Put Brakes on Trucking, Manufacturers, the Economy

By | Infrastructure, Regulations, Small Business | No Comments

The American Trucking Associations rounds up the critical reaction from business,  transportation, law enforcement and other groups to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s proposed rules of service for over-the-road trucking.

From “Variety of Groups Pan FMCSA’s Proposed Hours-of-Service Rule,” a selection:

Several of the proposed changes will create more difficulty for roadside inspectors and law enforcement officers to verify compliance . . . we believe the prudent course of action at this point would be to retain the current rules . . .” – Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Executive Director Stephen A. Keppler.

“The proposed rule is not supported by existing safety and health data. . . . Advocacy recommends that FMCSA consider retaining its current regulations while conducting additional research to determine whether changing the current rules will meet the agency’s stated objective of improving safety, enhancing driver health and providing flexibility. . . The proposed rule would reduce flexibility and could actually impede safety and driver health.” –  U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

“. . . the reality that the current hours-of-service rules have been functioning well and safely since they were made effective in 2004 seems to argue that it is ill-considered and inappropriate to propose such complex changes to the current hours-of-service rules.” – Gregg Dal Ponte, administrator, Motor Carrier Transportation Division, Oregon DOT. Read More

Industries Develop in ‘Clusters’; Workforce Training Should Align

By | Education and Training, Small Business | No Comments

President Obama talked persuasively about the importance of workforce training during the White House’s “Winning the Future” forum in Cleveland Tuesday. His remarks came in response to a comment from Roy in Temecula, Calif., which we take to be Roy Paulson of Paulson Manufacturing, a manufacturer of safety equipment and a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Board of Directors. From the transcript:

MS. [Sarah] BERNARD: We had a lot of questions come in about — or comments and thoughts about preparing the next-generation workforce. Roy in Temeculah, California, noted: The economy develops in pockets and clusters. Why don’t we match this with our workforce development for the best results? We all know that people have many different jobs over their lifetime, and we need to retrain where and when it’s needed — keep it simple, buy it quickly, keep it local. The local aspect allows easy access for the people that need the training, and it’s tailored to the local environment and conditions.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the answer is in the question. I think that question is spot on. What you find as you travel around the country is that there’s certain regions that are starting to gain expertise in biotech, or they’re starting to gain expertise in advanced battery manufacturing, or they’re starting to gain expertise in a particular industry which requires a particular skill set. And if we can get businesses to partner with local community colleges or local universities and have them help to design the training process for the jobs that already exist, it’s a win-win.

For the businesses, it means that all their workforce training costs are absorbed somewhere else, which is obviously good for their bottom line.

For the students, what it means is that if you actually go through this program, you know that there’s going to be a job at the end of the day because the employers have actually helped to design the program. And so Skills for America’s Future is a program that we’ve been trying to implement that gets those partnerships between businesses and colleges and universities. Read More

President Names Intel’s CEO to Jobs Council

By | Economy, Innovation, Small Business | No Comments

The Oregonian has the news today, “Intel and Obama embrace in Hillsboro today over shared priorities“:

President Barack Obama and Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini share a stage for the first time today when the president arrives in Hillsboro to tout the chip maker’s education initiatives and investment in domestic manufacturing.

After a difficult courtship, the Democratic president and Republican CEO have found common ground on innovation and education. Obama this morning will appoint Otellini to the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, adding a top-tier name from the tech industry to a new group charged with boosting U.S. economic performance.

The appointment, and today’s meeting in Hillsboro, is the fruit of more assertive lobbying by the high-tech industry and Obama’s need to display closer ties to business.

News reports highlight critical comments Otellini has made about the Administration’s economic policies, views that represent many of those in manufacturing.

From The Hill, “White House reaches out to Intel critic who blasted job policies“:

Asked during an interview in August what advice he would give the president on jobs, Otellini said: 

“The most important thing the current administration can do is remove the number of variables out there. There are so many things where business leaders can’t predict what’s going to happen. Businesses don’t like uncertainty. When you start reducing the variables and putting predictability into the system, you can now make informed decisions.”

 The President’s Council is chaired by Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, and Otellini becomes the second person named to the panel. We trust that the President’s upcoming appointments will include more manufacturers and representatives from small business.

More …