Small Businesses Boost Utah’s Economy

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    By Sophie Barth

    More than 95 percent of all Utah businesses are small businesses, according to a small business advocate report.

    The report, done by the federal Office of Advocacy for small businesses, defines a small business as those that employ 500 or fewer people.

    The Office of Advocacy researches and compiles statistical data detailing the importance of small businesses in national and state economies. It then presents the report to policy makers.

    “Small businesses are job creators,” said John McDowell, press secretary for the Office of Advocacy. “What our research finds is that they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.”

    The Utah Legislature Interim Committee has approved an initial Regulatory Flexibility Act that will appear before the Utah Legislature in 2007. This act requires policy makers to consider small businesses before they adopt regulations.

    “When policy makers write rules and legislation, they often think about the largest entities and then shrug their shoulders and call it good,” said Jim Henderson, regional advocate over Utah and other western states. “The smaller firms need to meet regulatory goals without having to meet the Cadillac version of these regulations.”

    Legislatures or agencies often pass rules that are aimed toward regulating big businesses, but the regulations can be financially constraining for small firms.

    “Firms with 20 employees or less spend about 40 percent more per employee per year to comply with federal regulations,” McDowell said.

    The Office of Advocacy has saved small businesses across the country over $6.5 billion in compliance costs, McDowell said. The regional office is now working toward a similar goal in Utah.

    “We”re asking Gov. [Jon] Huntsman and the legislature to amend the rule making policies of Utah so they”ll take small businesses into account more often,” Henderson said. “What we want to do is level the playing field.”

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