By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Small business owners in Madison County told legislators exactly what needs to happen to help their business grow.
“Get out of the way,” said John Raine.
Raine, president of Raine Inc., 6401 South Madison Ave., said fewer taxes and fewer regulations would enable small businesses to grow. He was one of nine small business owners who gave their concerns to state lawmakers at the Anderson Public Library on Thursday at a meeting with the Indiana General Assembly’s Small Business Caucus.
Since Aug. 1, the legislators have visited 14 different communities to talk one-on-one with small business owners in a statewide tour. A total of 22 cities are scheduled as part of the tour.
State Rep. Terri J. Austin, D-Anderson, said the caucus is on a fast track to gather information and discuss how Indiana can help business grow. Austin is one of the co-chairs of the caucus along with Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, and State Sens. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury. She said there are approximately 40 members in the caucus.
Yoder was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting, but state Rep. Jack Lutz, R-Anderson, was present.
Austin said they hope to address some of the issues discussed at Thursday’s meeting in the next legislative session, but if the issues can be corrected through any of the state’s agencies, they will be addressed immediately. She said Indiana was unique regarding business growth due to the large number of small businesses that make up the majority of employment in the state.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses — those with fewer than 500 employees — employ 1.2 million Hoosiers across the state.
Local small business owners expressed concerns about unemployment regulations, finding skilled workers and competing against companies that are not properly licensed.
Todd Rimer, marketing advisor for Element 212, 1106 Meridian St., said competing with businesses that work under the table creates an unfair business environment.
Austin discussed whistleblower hotlines and other options to report businesses that pay employees in cash.
Gina Brisco, vice president of Gaither Management, and Skye Huff, owner of Mugs Coffee & Tea, both said they attended more to listen what other small business owners had to say, but found themselves actively participating in the discussions.
Barbara Quandt, Indiana state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has attended all of the meetings and said the Anderson meeting has been one of the most active discussions. She said the idea of legislators talking one-on-one with small businesses owners was suggested by her group.
“We brought the idea of a state tour to the legislators and they took it on,” she said.
The meetings started in Valparaiso and have been conducted in LaPorte, Seymour, New Albany, Columbus, Greensburg, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Greenfield, Bloomington, Carmel, Lafayette and Muncie.
Rimer said the bipartisan group of lawmakers working together to address the issue of small business challenges should be a model for other governments.
“You don’t just love your party,” he said. “You love your people.”
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