The article “Businesses reckon with GOP losses” (Nov. 18) laments the Tim Walz win as a loss to the “business community.” Frustratingly, businesses are once again being lumped into one “community” and painted with a broad brush. For many small-business owners in Minnesota, this article couldn’t be more off.
The reality is that small-business owners in Minnesota — companies with fewer than 100 employees — make up 99.5 percent of Minnesota businesses and employ nearly half of the state’s workers, and our priorities have nothing in common with large corporations who pay lobbyists, like the National Federation of Independent Businesses, to push for deregulation and tax breaks.
Ask any small-business owner in Minnesota about their concerns and they will tell you how challenging it can be to find health care. Then they might mention how tough finding and retaining quality employees can be. Eventually, they will bring up the need for broadband, transportation and infrastructure. You won’t hear about “overtaxation.”
Continuing to improve our health care system is the surest way to begin to ease small business concerns, and this is precisely what our recent election reflected. In our state and across the country, candidates who committed to improving health care prevailed.
Small-business owners are tired of paying thousands of dollars every month in health insurance premiums for high-deductible plans we aren’t able to use. We are tired of anxiously awaiting health care renewal notices that tell us our rates will go up 5, 10, 20 or 50 percent. Usually, we end up reluctantly signing up for an evermore expensive plan with increasing deductibles and steady declines in benefits.
These constant and unpredictable increases in costs are the single biggest barrier to providing raises, hiring new staff and growing our businesses. Larger businesses that can afford to pay for better health care or negotiate with massive insurance companies do not understand our struggle. Therefore, they could not possibly share our priorities.
Small-business owners would rather be out of the business of managing health care. We are tired of politicians paying lip service to solving the health care crisis during elections, then ignoring it between election cycles while it gets worse and worse. We elect our representatives to confront the most vital problems in our communities and come up with solutions.
We welcome a new administration that is committed to confronting our health care woes by expanding MinnesotaCare so that anyone can buy in and have access to quality, affordable insurance. Being able to access health care will help thousands of emerging entrepreneurs start businesses and create jobs, which will be an enormous boon to our economy.
Investments in education and job training should be seen as solutions to our state’s labor shortage. And we need to make sure that our workforce has the support employees need to lead healthy lives, care for their families, and stay at work in Minnesota. We can do this by making smart investments in child care and paid family and medical leave.
Without investments in infrastructure, including expanded broadband internet in greater Minnesota, small businesses growth will continue to stagnate. Now is the time for our representatives to be looking for ways to improve transportation and fix our roads and bridges. Unlike what the article would lead you to believe, small business owners are interested in new, sustainable solutions for funding these improvements and maintaining Minnesota’s infrastructure.
Furthermore, the stale suggestion that Minnesota will be an unwelcome state to businesses has been proven wrong over and over again. So why does it continue to come up? We enjoy great quality of life in Minnesota and strong communities that support thriving local economies. We should be nurturing and building on that.
We want progress. We want to see our representatives coming to the table to find solutions and pass common sense legislation that supports small businesses, our employees, and the communities we serve. And we want them to understand that business is not a monolith, and the lobbyists they hear from about what “business wants” don’t speak for all of us.
K.B. Brown is owner of Wolfpack Promotionals. Jason Rathe is owner of Field Outdoor Spaces. They are co-chairs of the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota.