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Support small businesses

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Washington, DC, April 17, 2012 | comments

While millions will cut short their Thanksgiving gatherings to get a place at the front of the line on Black Friday, you can avoid the rush, get some rest, and support local jobs by taking part in the second annual Small Business Saturday this weekend. Small Business Saturday encourages patronization of local businesses for holiday shopping. As consumers, we should embrace this mantra this weekend and throughout the year.

Small business owners are America’s entrepreneurs and the engine of economic growth. According to the Census Bureau, there are nearly 445,000 small businesses in New York state, employing over 7.6 million people with a combined annual salary of over $440 billion.

Nationally, small businesses employ about half of all private sector employees and represent about 65 percent of all new jobs created over the past 15 years.

Most importantly, 68 cents of every dollar you spend at a small business stays local

But small businesses are more than just facts and figures. They are the lifeblood of our communities, supporting everything from Little League teams to highway cleanups to a steady local tax base that our villages, towns and cities rely on. Even more than that, they are the embodiment of the American dream — proving that if you work hard, play by the rules and embrace the American spirit — more often than not, you can succeed.

During these difficult economic times, our small businesses are fighting to survive and be profitable. And just like the rest of us, they have watched income inequality grow over the past few decades. In fact, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, income grew by 275 percent for the top one percent of households. From 2005 to 2007, the top 20 percent of Americans made more money than the bottom 80 percent combined. And when the purchasing power of the middle class falls, small businesses are disproportionately hurt.

What can we do to help ensure our small businesses continue to grow and thrive this holiday season? First, think of your favorite local small business, and make the pledge to shop there this holiday weekend. You might still participate in Black Friday or capitalize on sales on Cyber Monday, but resolve to drop by and make a purchase at your favorite small business.

Second, Congress should do its part to deliver some holiday cheer to our nation’s small businesses. President Barack Obama recently signed a law providing small businesses with tax credits if they hire returning veterans. This is a good start, but Congress should do more.

One idea is to pass legislation to expand access to capital so that small businesses can grow and hire more local workers. Another is to pass legislation that would rebuild our roads, bridges, airports, ports, rail and other infrastructure so that local contractors can get back to work rebuilding America. Finally, Congress should focus on strengthening our workforce by training and retraining job seekers in order to outfit them with the skills they will need to be hired by local and technical small businesses and manufacturers.

I will continue to push each and every day for policies that create jobs, strengthen the middle class, respect the dignity of senior citizens and invest in the economy of the future. In the meantime, we can all do our own individual part to promote local small businesses by participating in Small Business Saturday. I look forward to doing so myself, and hope that you will join me.

U.S. Rep Paul Tonko represents the 21st Congressional District

Read more: http://troyrecord.com/articles/2011/11/25/opinion/doc4ecd599718645333872179.txt?viewmode=fullstory

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