Monday, November 16, 2009

Are we losing our backbone?

Well, if ye olde cliche about small business being the backbone of our economy is true, we are certainly losing said backbone here in Florida.

According to a recently released report compiled by the Small Business Administration, the Sunshine State ranks dead last . . . behind not only the other 49 states, but also the District of Columbia . . . in the percentage of our workforce that is employed by small business. The national average is 50%. We are at 44%.

The same report does show us #1 in one category, but it is hardly a superlative we should be advertising. Apparently, we are #1 in terms of losing small business jobs . . . at a rate of 4% per year.

Now, I know all too well that we are in the middle of a recession. But, these two statistics make it clear that there is something systemically awry in this little corner of heaven that transcends the national malaise.

That being said, I am proud of the work being done by our local state legislators to reverse this trend, particularly Rep. Eric Eisnaugle who hosted a "Small Business Summit" in downtown Orlando this evening. And, I was honored to accept his invitation to directly address my concerns to the panel, which included Sen. Andy Gardiner, Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon, and Representatives Steve Crisafulli, Mike Horner, Kurt Kelly, and Scott Plakon.

While I was armed with a specific statute that negatively impacts my own construction/contractor concerns, it was the overall environment in Florida that I asked them to address when the state legislature re-convenes.

I pointed out that our illustrious governor has an advisory council with the responsibility of reviewing his administration's impact on small business and proposing remedies for the issues they uncover.

As a co-equal branch of government, I encouraged them to consider establishing some similar group to review the impacts of existing and pending legislation.

The amazing thing is that I think at least some of the panelists were really listening to what I had to say.

Kudos to Eric for hosting this summit, his staff for organizing it, and the panelists for being willing to enter a room full of disgruntled small business men and women!

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