Help for Small Business After Hurricane Sandy

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

In the aftermath of one of the biggest storms the U.S. has ever seen, Northeastern small business owners are working tirelessly to deal with the damage Hurricane Sandy wreaked on their facilities, inventories and bottom lines. Because of the superstorm, many hardworking entrepreneurs were forced to close their doors for a few days, a week, or in some cases longer—which means lost profits. For some, it will be a matter of time until business as usual resumes. But as small business owners continue to recover from this huge setback, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is standing by to help.

There are a several SBA disaster assistance resources available for East Coast small business owners who were impacted by Sandy. First, businesses and non-profits of all sizes can apply for loans of up to $2 million to deal with physical damage to their businesses. This money can help them repair or replace their buildings and inventory.

Second, the same types of businesses can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Intended to help make up for profits lost while businesses’ doors were closed, these loans are also worth up to $2 million. Regardless of whether their businesses suffered property damage, owners in affected areas are eligible for EIDL loans to help with their working capital needs.

Finally, small business owners who own their homes can apply for loans of up to $200,000 to help fix damaged real estate. Along with renters, these homeowners can also apply for loans worth up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property. Click here to find out more about your options and apply for assistance.

Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, the SBA began conducting damage assessments for affected businesses. They have a full team ready to mobilize at your beck and call, should you wish to have one of these assessments at your business. You can also get free help filling out applications and outlining plans to rebuild at your local Small Business Development Center. To find the location nearest you, click here.

Our thoughts go out to all the small business owners impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This is a difficult time, but small business owners are inherently resilient and will rebound in time. The SBA can help in many ways, and we hope you’ll join us in letting your fellow entrepreneurs know what resources are available to them.

Small Firms Create Majority of New Jobs in May; Robust Policies Can Help Keep it Up

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Original statement issued on June 1, 2012:

Our nation’s smallest businesses—those with 1-49 employees—continue to outpace large businesses in the race to put America back to work. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees created more than half of all new jobs last month, and, from April to May, they boosted the actual number of jobs they generated by 16 percent, according to data released Thursday by Automatic Data Processing, Inc (ADP). Small businesses overall accounted for more than 93 percent of all new jobs last month, while large businesses created just 6.8 percent of new jobs.

These figures underscore the starring role small businesses have in helping lower the unemployment rate, and they’re a reminder that the smallest firms are our country’s primary job creators. These businesses can and will put our economy back on track, but they can’t do it singlehandedly. Legislators must continue pursuing pragmatic economic policies that ensure entrepreneurs have they tools they need to keep rebuilding the economy. We suggest:

  • Calling on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to issue bank charters that would supply small firms with more credit. The agency has not issued a single charter this year, despite the dismal lending landscape entrepreneurs continue to face: our national opinion polling found 90 percent of small business owners view credit availability as a problem.
  • Passing the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act, which would promote small business job creation by providing a 10 percent income tax credit for increased payroll in 2012 while also extending the 100 percent expense deduction for equipment that lowers owners’ after-tax costs.
  • Extending the Production Tax Credit for wind project development, as it supports 37,000 jobs that would be at risk if the credit expires. Not only would extending this credit protect existing jobs, small business owners also indicate it could help generate new jobs: 7 in 10 small business owners believe government investments in clean energy play an important role in boosting the economy and creating jobs now.
  • With ADP’s latest data highlighting small businesses as invaluable assets to the economy, it’s clear we must support them with pragmatic solutions that address their greatest concerns. We encourage lawmakers to pursue robust policies such as those listed above, as failing to do so would only hamper our fiscal recovery.

New TV Ad, Opinion Poll Highlight Colorado Small Businesses’ Support for Balanced Energy Policy That Ensures Protection of Public Lands

Colorado small business owners strongly believe the preservation of the state’s natural assets is essential to their financial success and that of local economies, and they support the president’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to develop new energy resources, particularly if it includes provisions to protect public lands, according to opinion polling we released this week and reflected in an ad airing in the Denver metro area.

Check out the ad here:

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found nearly two-thirds (63%) of Colorado small business owners agree, with 43% strongly agreeing, that access to parks, public lands and other outdoor opportunities is a large part of the reason they live and do business in Colorado. Exactly half agree Colorado’s national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife habitats are not only an essential part of the outdoor culture and quality of life, but also one of the reasons they do business there.

In addition, 72% support the president and Congress’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, which promotes development of various energy sources including solar, wind, natural gas, oil, coal and more. But they find this policy even more attractive if it takes steps to ensure some areas remain accessible to visitors and free of development: 55% would be more likely to support an all-of-the-above strategy that takes that extra step. This is more than double the percentage of owners who would be less likely (26%). Today, Small Business Majority released a TV commercial in the Denver area demonstrating support from real small business owners who are looking for an all-of-the-above energy approach that protects public lands.

“Very recently, I moved my company to Colorado because I knew it was the ideal place to find the right customer demographic—and the most well-suited employees—to make my business thrive,” said John Land Le Coq, owner of Fishpond Inc. and Lilypond Inc. in Denver. “As a company that offers outdoor products, it’s important to us that we use our business to spread the word on issues that revolve around the outdoors. We didn’t start the company this way, but it became who we are because of the big impact that protecting the outdoors has on the success of our business. ”

A recent proposal in Congress that garnered small business support in the poll would establish Browns Canyon and the Arkansas River Valley as a national monument. Two-thirds support this proposal, which would allow continued vehicle access and public use of Browns Canyon such as hunting, fishing and rafting, but prohibit new oil and gas drilling, and other development.

In addition, small business owners agree by a 4:1 ratio that protecting public lands by designating new national monuments and national parks would positively (rather than negatively) impact local jobs and the economy. Another 53% feel such efforts would positively impact small business opportunities tied to public lands, and 51% say it would help Colorado attract and retain entrepreneurs and new businesses.

Our nation’s most prolific job creators are asking that smart steps are taken to preserve Colorado’s natural assets because they believe it’s good for business. It’s evident public lands play an important role in entrepreneurs’ decisions to open businesses in Colorado. And they’ve seen firsthand that protecting those areas can attract business, which is why they’d like to see national monuments established to preserve them, and it’s why they are asking lawmakers to balance public lands protection as they develop new energy policies.

This was not just a poll of owners whose income is related to outdoor activities. In fact, 87% report their revenue is not tied to open space in any way, such as selling outdoor equipment, offering bike tours or even just owning a business near a touristy outdoor area. When asked how their businesses are faring, 41% of Colorado small business owners say they’re doing well, while only 12% say they’re not doing well.

Additional findings from the poll include:

  • 83% agree we can protect land and water, create jobs and maintain a vibrant economy simultaneously.
  • 93% believe national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas are important to Colorado’s economy.
  • 92% believe public spaces drawing tourists can boost business for local restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and more.
  • 66% believe we should not allow more private companies to develop public lands when doing so would limit the public’s enjoyment of them.
  • 53% identified as Republican or independent-leaning Republican, 28 percent identified as Democrat or independent-leaning Democrat and 18 percent identified as Independent.

For more information on the poll, visit http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/public-lands

Don’t Forget About the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally featured in The Huffington Post:

With tax day rapidly approaching, small business owners still have a chance to cash in on a health care reform provision reserved just for them: health care tax credits. The Affordable Care Act was designed to address one of small business owners’ most serious problems — a lack of access to affordable coverage. Since its enactment, employers across the country have been able to claim the credit and reinvest in their business. Nan Warshaw, owner of Bloodshoot Records in Chicago, Illinois, is one of them.

Nan was able to save nearly $6,000 with the Affordable Care Act’s small business tax credit in 2010, helping offset her group coverage cost. “We’re still filing our 2011 returns, but we anticipate saving nearly that amount again,” she said. “With us paying the full contributions for our employees’ insurance, it really is a relief to get some help with those costs — and this is certainly the first time we’ve been financially rewarded for looking out for their wellbeing.”

Nan is one of hundreds of thousands of employers already seeing her health care costs decrease with the help of the tax credits. According to national opinion polling we released in 2011, one-third of small business owners who currently don’t offer health coverage are more likely to start doing so because of them, and 33 percent of employers already offering it said they’re more likely to continue doing so.

Currently, businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees who pay at least 50 percent of total premiums are eligible for a credit of up to 35 percent of their premium contribution. In 2014, that will jump to 50 percent. For a rough estimate of how much your business could save, check out Small Business Majority’s tax credit calculator.

In this tough economy small business owners are struggling to compete, and in some cases, just keep their doors open. Like some of the law’s other key components, the tax credits are intended to boost entrepreneurs’ bottom lines, bettering their chances of offering quality coverage. Some use it to become more competitive by bulking up benefits packages, while others purchase new equipment. Still others put it toward their employees’ share of premiums.

For Ron Nelsen, owner of Pioneer Overhead Door in Las Vegas, Nevada, the credit eased worries that group costs might spiral so far out of control that he’d be robbed of his commitment to offering insurance. “When I heard about the new health care law, I was relieved something was finally being done to help entrepreneurs like me,” he said. “In 2010, I got back $2,235 just for offering insurance to deserving employees. And this year, I received even more. Most importantly, I’m not thinking about having to tell the guys they’re on their own when it comes to health insurance.”

Nationally, 309,000 small businesses saved money through this provision in 2010. An even larger number should benefit this year. And research shows the uptake could be even greater. Our opinion poll found 57 percent of small business owners do not know about the tax credits. It’s time to change that. To help them, we must get the word out and do everything we can to make sure this important provision is taken advantage of. In this economy, every little bit helps.

New Greenhouse Gas Rules Can Create Opportunities for Small Businesses

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Original statement issued on March 26, 2012:

Rules proposed today by the Environmental Protection Agency that would limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants will help spur innovation and provide opportunities for small businesses to grow. What’s more, rules such as these are supported by a majority of small businesses—our primary job creators.

National opinion polling we released in September found 76 percent of small business owners support the EPA regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Another 87 percent believe improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses.

The Clean Air Act, under the direction of the EPA, has had a successful 40-year record of safeguarding our economic interests, along with the public health. It has created an atmosphere conducive to entrepreneurism, spurred the innovation of new American technologies and supported a massive increase in our nation’s gross domestic product.

Small business owners know the future of small business depends on change and innovation, which is why they support bold policies that will provide new business opportunities for increased investment in low and no-carbon technologies, as well as those that promote energy efficiency. They realize change and innovation will help stimulate our flagging economy.