Small Business Majority Blog

Small Business Matters

New Jersey’s Hispanic community is an integral part of the state’s economy, and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey is a key part of the community’s economic influence.

For 25 years, the chamber has fostered, mentored and trained Hispanic-owned businesses in New Jersey.

“The Chamber is the premier vehicle to access the Hispanic community and its formidable purchasing power, as evidenced by our growth of non-Hispanic membership,” Carlos Medina, chairman of the chamber, said.

Having evolved initially from a small group of business leaders to become one of the largest chambers in the Garden State, the chamber has become a voice for the 70,000 Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute more than $10 billion towards the state’s economy.

In order to be of use to the local Hispanic community, the chamber leverages relationships with the public and private sector to bypass red tape in order to offer their members and the community the services they need.

“The easiest way to describe what we do is by saying that we connect the dots. We really listen to our members and their needs and connect them to the correct people that can help them,” he said. “We are both our members’ mentor and coach.”

The chamber hosts three signature events each year, including its Health & Wellness Fair, Diversity Celebration & Annual Convention and its Awards Luncheon. This on top of the many networking events, webinars, expos and training sessions the chamber offers year-round.

“Our mission is to promote the continued growth and development of New Jersey businesses,” Medina said.

To meet that goal, the chamber works to expand business opportunities, educate and train entrepreneurs, serve as a business advocate in the political process and promote trade between local, state and national business communities.

These efforts have proved very fruitful.

“We have assisted many members to make great connections that have helped them further their business,” Medina said. “We have also acted as a promotional advocate to help members gain exposure for their business.”

In the coming months, the chamber is focusing on hot topics such as access to capital, diversity within the state’s business community and entrepreneurship in New Jersey.

“We’ll be launching an entrepreneurship training academy in Central New Jersey that will give them not only the knowledge and connections to succeed, but also mentors to turn to for the life of their business.”

And with an added focus on embracing new technologies, which Medina believes adds “value and augments our valuable relationships,” the chamber is looking to spearhead the growth and development of the New Jersey Hispanic business community for years to come.

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on healthcare reform.

Q: How has the Affordable Care Act impacted small business access to healthcare?

A: Implementation of the Affordable Care Act has removed a significant impediment to entrepreneurship. No longer is healthcare coverage tied to a job working for another employer. Would-be entrepreneurs can now pursue their dreams of starting their own business knowing they will have access to affordable health coverage. For small businesses, there is a wealth of options available to provide affordable coverage to employees, allowing smaller firms to compete for highly skilled workers.

Q: What steps can lawmakers take to ensure the healthcare law is working best for small businesses?

A: One way to strengthen the Affordable Care Act for small businesses is making sure the federal Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) functions properly when it’s released online on November 15. SHOP allows small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to band together when buying coverage, granting them the kind of purchasing clout larger corporations enjoy. Small employers that offer coverage through the marketplace may also be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50% of the premiums.

A properly implemented SHOP marketplace relieves hard-working small business owners from spending countless hours trying to navigate the healthcare market. Following a year’s delay with no online front-end available in the federally run SHOP marketplaces, getting a working online system up and running would be a real win for small businesses.

Q: Do employees of small businesses have any choice in their health coverage?

A: Yes! In fact, employee choice is key in distinguishing the new insurance marketplaces from the outside health insurance market, and small businesses are very supportive of this feature. Our scientific opinion polling found two-thirds of small employers believe allowing employees to choose among multiple carriers is a huge benefit of the ACA.

In June 2014, the Obama administration released a rule allowing states to delay the implementation of employee choice in SHOP until 2015. This rule has allowed half the states with federally run programs to opt out of the ACA-mandated requirement that the SHOP marketplace allow employees to choose among multiple insurance carriers. This harms small businesses in those states and puts them at a competitive disadvantage with big business. Including employee choice in all SHOP marketplaces as quickly as possible can reverse a longstanding market trend that’s left small employers on unequal footing.

Q: What about self-employed individuals?

A: There are more options outside of SHOP for self-employed individuals and small businesses not in a financial position to purchase employer-sponsored coverage. Since none of our nation’s 22 million self-employed people are eligible to purchase coverage in SHOP, they have options available to them in the individual healthcare insurance marketplaces. It’s important that lawmakers also continue to support maximum outreach and education efforts to inform these self-employed individuals about their options and access to health coverage under the ACA.

Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer

Statement by John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority, regarding data released Wednesday by ADP showing small businesses continue to drive job growth in the United States

Today’s employment report from ADP once again shows the smallest businesses—those with 1-49 employees—continue to outpace large businesses in the race to put America back to work. With 102,000 jobs created by small businesses in October, it continues a trend going back to January 2011 of positive job growth among our nation’s primary job creators.

However, the hole dug by the recession was deep and wage-growth has remained stagnant. Small businesses could be in an even stronger position economically if policymakers in Washington cross the partisan divide that has paralyzed them for so long and move on smart economic policies like those outlined in Small Business Majority’s Economic Agenda for America’s Future. These policies include solutions to near-term challenges, such as shoring up additional capital for small businesses through final crowdfunding rules, to strategies for long-term growth through comprehensive tax reform and strengthening the nation’s infrastructure.

Over the last two years small businesses have been hurt by the historic level of gridlock in Washington. According to the Pew Research Center, we are on pace to see one of the least productive Congresses in history. That is not what small businesses need. Two more years of this type of inaction will have dire consequences not just on small business, but our economy as a whole.

Small businesses are concerned about access to capital, a fair tax codeimmigration reform, finding and retaining skilled workers, a healthcare marketplace that works, and greater demand for their goods and services. Now with the mid-term elections behind us, they need the new Congress to take those concerns to the House and Senate floor. Small businesses and our economy need lawmakers to stop talking about helping small businesses and start acting on policies that level the playing field for small firms and put them in a position to thrive and grow.

John Arensmeyer is the Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization, founded and run by small business owners, to support America’s 28 million small businesses. In September, Small Business Majority released its “Economic Agenda for America’s Future,” a set of short and long-term policy recommendations government leaders can follow to ensure an environment where entrepreneurs, and our economy, can thrive.

At 1,300 members strong and representing more than 50,000 jobs in the Central Valley region of California, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce is a heavyweight small business champion.

Since 1920, the Bakersfield Chamber has provided leadership, business education and networking opportunities to ensure a healthy business community, said Cynthia Pollard, president and CEO of the chamber.

The chamber offers a number of events catered to Bakersfield’s business community. One of the most popular is the Good Morning Bakersfield breakfast series, which takes a look at important issues currently affecting the community.

Pollard noted everything from hydraulic fracturing to finances has been covered in these quarterly events. The upcoming breakfast on November 10 focuses on the county hospital.

In efforts to educate members and business leaders, the chamber holds regular seminars where topics including social media, HR and workplace safety policies are discussed, while networking expos help connect business and community leaders to other organizations.

One of those organizations just happens to be Small Business Majority.

“We look for other businesses, entities and organizations that are pro-business, with common goals and common causes,” Pollard said. One of those common causes for the Bakersfield Chamber and Small Business Majority is immigration reform. Immigration reform would make it easier for local businesses to hire the 81% of California’s more than 10 million immigrant population who are working age adults and would help attract a more highly-skilled foreign workforce.

Immigration reform isn’t the only issue the chamber advocates for. “A government review council monitors and advocates on issues important to local businesses such as education, healthcare and taxes,” she said.

“[The chamber] advocates regularly on all levels on these issues trying to make sure that what’s passed and implemented isn’t going to negatively impact business,” Pollard said.

One of the most effective and successful programs the chamber sponsors is another breakfast series that focuses on networking opportunities for small businesses, where representatives from bigger businesses come to talk to them about ways they can do business together.

“There have been some real business connections and business leads and contacts that have come out of that program,” Pollard said.

With all of the hard work the Bakersfield Chamber does, they are seeing tremendous positive impact on the local business community.

“What we’re finding is that our businesses are optimistic,” Pollard said, commenting on a recently completed member survey that found 88% of chamber members say they value or extremely value what the chamber offers in comparison to annual membership dues and investment.

“Our goal at the end of the day is that we have helped create a stronger local economy by helping to retain and grow businesses that are here.”

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on tax reform.

Q: How will corporate tax reform help small businesses?

A: The current corporate tax code contains tax loopholes that favor large corporations, while placing smaller companies at a disadvantage. According to our scientific polling, four in five small business owners support reforming the corporate tax code and closing corporate tax loopholes, or inversions, which allow big businesses to relocate their base overseas for tax reasons. These inversions harm small businesses and closing them would create a much more level playing field.

Q: What steps can be taken to reform the tax code and level the playing field for small businesses?

A: The nation needs a tax code that creates opportunities for small businesses and encourages startups and entrepreneurs. There are many other steps that can be taken to achieve this goal:

  • Ensuring parity between online and brick-and-mortar businesses with a reasonable Internet sales tax solution will bring about a fairer tax code.
  • Simplifying and expanding the small business healthcare tax credit so more small companies can provide coverage for their employees will bolster small businesses to compete with larger businesses for top-tier talent.
  • Cracking down on the ability of large corporations to reduce their tax burden by simply moving their headquarters outside the country will ensure a more level playing field.

Q: Is there any current legislation under consideration that would help reform the tax code and benefit small business?

A: Yes! The Marketplace Fairness Act could settle the issue of parity between online and brick-and-mortar stores for good. The act would require online retailers to collect sales tax from customers in states where the retailer has no physical presence and remit them to each customer’s state. With a small business exemption for online sellers making less than $1 million annually, this act would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar stores while delivering additional revenue to state and local governments.

The Small Business Tax Relief Act, passed by the House in June 2014, would improve a crucial part of the tax code for small firms and give small businesses more financial confidence, promoting increased investment. The act would allow small businesses to deduct the cost of purchasing new equipment up-front, enabling business owners to maximize investments for their company, expand and create jobs.

Finally, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, passed in 2010, should be extended permanently to allow self-employed individuals to deduct the cost of healthcare from their income. These entrepreneurs currently pay 15.3% more in taxes because they are self-employed. To achieve true tax equity, the self-employed must be able to exclude health insurance premiums from self-employment tax.