Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking to small business owners across the district. Recent stops in Taunton and Foxborough have highlighted the commitment and the ingenuity that allows these businesses to continue to drive our local economies, despite tough times.
In Taunton, several of the shop owners I met are actively involved in Taunton’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID). Founded in 2010, the Taunton BID is comprised of over 50 local businesses that opt into membership by paying an annual fee. That money is then invested back into the neighborhood, going directly to revitalization efforts like infrastructure improvements, maintenance services, security enhancements and other measures aimed at supporting and encouraging business growth. That so many local shops have chosen to be active, invested stakeholders in their community is a testament to what is truly unique about small business: their commitment to the cities and towns that support them.
The efforts in downtown Taunton are an example of partnerships within the community supporting growth at the local level. It’s a model government could and should follow – as partners, rather than adversaries, in economic development efforts.
While organizations like the BID work to support local businesses, there is more that can be done to encourage their growth. In this economy, small businesses owners often struggle to access the capital necessary to maintain their businesses. During another small business visit in Foxborough, I met a local deli owner who put it succinctly: “I’m not trying to get rich. I’m trying to get by.” He described the boom months of summer, followed by the slower winter months and said that without access to capital, the ups and downs of his profit margin constantly threatens to take him under.
The uncertainty facing our small businesses continues to hinder recovery. In order to open access to capital, we must preserve a strong Small Business Administration, which can provide crucial grants, loans and technical assistance to our small businesses. On a macroeconomic level, the only thing that will truly clarify the markets and get businesses big and small hiring again is a comprehensive budget plan to reduce our debt and our deficit; a plan that would get banks and venture capitalists off the sidelines and investing in the industry and innovation that will drive our economic future.
At the end of the day, the role of small businesses in the cities and towns of the 4th extends beyond our economy. Whether through the services they provide or the contributions they make – these hardworking men and women strengthen and define the very fabric of our communities.
As I travel across the 4th District, the issue I hear about most is jobs. There’s no better way to find answers to our economic challenges than talking to businesses large and small that employ people in the district and drive our local economy. Notes from the 4th is where I share with you what I hear, what I learn, and what I believe government can and should be doing to help with employment growth and opportunity.