Special to TH
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — A bipartisan group of Indiana lawmakers formed to address the needs of small businesses will conduct a series of town halls across the state in August and September to give them a chance to meet with business owners and discuss what government can do to help their operations grow. The caucus will meet in Washington on Sept. 11.
The Indiana General Assembly’s Small Business Caucus was formed earlier this year by legislators interested in ways to improve the climate for the types of businesses that represent more than 97 percent of all employers in the state, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). A small business is defined as one with fewer than 500 employees.
Co-chairs of the caucus are State Reps. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson) and Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte) and State Sens. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) and Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury). Initial meetings of the group have drawn support from senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle.
“Establishing a small business caucus has been long overdue and vitally important,” Austin said. “It sends a message that we understand their needs are different from those traditionally associated with economic development in our state, and that a fresh approach is required. One of the ways we can help is by sitting down with small business owners across Indiana and work to see what we can do to build a better environment for them to grow and thrive.”
According to the most recent SBA figures, small businesses employed 1.2 million Hoosiers, with the most employment coming from firms with 20 to 499 employees.
Yoder added, “We know small businesses are vital to Indiana’s economy and provide the most jobs to working Hoosiers. In the Legislature, we continue to create and support initiatives that ensure Indiana remains a leader in job creation, economic development, and low business regulations. I look forward to listening and speaking with small business owners so they can help guide us in pro-small business legislation.”
As of 2010, the SBA reports there are more than 488,000 small businesses in the state of Indiana.
Dermody noted, “Small businesses truly drive the Hoosier economy, and to ensure that momentum continues, it is important to seek innovative solutions to address any issues facing these vital businesses. By creating the Small Business Caucus, local lawmakers will be able to partner with small business owners and work together to come up with positive solutions to address their concerns. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we must work together to strengthen Indiana.”
The town meetings in August and September are designed to look back on what has been accomplished in economic development for small businesses in recent years, and consider the changes that are coming in the near future. Discussions will focus on the role government can play in helping small businesses run easier, with an emphasis on such areas as regulatory reform and education of the workforce.
“Small businesses are the brick and mortar of our communities,” said Lanane. “I look forward to joining my colleagues and working with our small business leaders to engage in an open discussion on how we can make our economic development policies stronger and beneficial to businesses of all sizes.”