From Djou for Hawaii, June 15, 2012
In case you missed it, Pacific Business News is running an op-ed I wrote reacting to a recent survey of small business owners that gave Hawaii an F for overall small business friendliness. I have long advocated for a more efficient and more effective government that makes it easier for small businesses - the engine of our economy - not harder.
I hope you'll take a few minutes to read my commentary below and drop me a line on Twitter, Facebook or through our website to let me know what you thought.
Have a great weekend!
State’s small businesses need friendlier government
by Charles Djou, Pacific Business News In My Opinion Friday, June 15, 2012
As a Member of Congress, I made it a priority to visit a local business here in Hawaii every day that I did not have to be in Washington. The reason was simple: they are the engine of our national economy and the backbone of our island community. When things are tough for them, things are tough for everyone. That’s why I fought every day for the kind of fiscal responsibility, tax relief and regulatory reform that would empower them to invest, hire and grow their business.
While it’s tough to find good economic news these days as our national economy continues to struggle, unfortunately for entrepreneurs in Hawaii, there is some bad news from a recent national survey. Thumbtack.com, a website where you can hire small businesses, and the Kauffman Foundation, a national organization devoted to entrepreneurship, partnered together to survey Thumbtack.com’s extensive network of over 275,000 small business owners, asking them to measure the state or city in which they started their business across 16 different categories, including cost of hiring a new employee, friendliness of certain regulations and forecasts of the business’ future economic health. In the survey, small business owners give Hawaii a failing grade for its overall small business friendliness.
Hawaii received an "F" in seven of the 16 categories and four D grades. Hawaii’s small businesses cited, in particular, the difficulty of starting new businesses, the cost of starting new businesses, and the various regulatory hoops they have to jump through. Interestingly, Hawaii was in the top ten for the category of perception of national economic health – Hawaii small business owners clearly saw greener pastures elsewhere.
At a time when job creation should be the top priority for every elected official at every level, and as economic data continues to point to a long road ahead before unemployment and jobs return to pre-recession levels, this survey helps shed light on what entrepreneurs need, and what they don’t. The reality is that sustainable job growth is not going to come from a few big corporations hiring hundreds of people. Job growth is going to come from lots and lots of small businesses each hiring one or two or three individuals. We should be making it easier, not harder, for them to do just that.
Throughout my career in public service, I’ve always put Hawaii first – and if I could have my way, we’d be #1 for small business friendliness. But to do so, we need to listen to our small business owners who are finding that it is much too hard and too expensive to pursue the American Dream in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s example is instructive for our federal government: an F is an indictment of failed policies of increasing the regulatory and tax burden on small businesses. Instead of going down the path of bigger government and more regulations, Washington should try more commonsense and manageable regulations that contribute to healthy economic growth and could help jumpstart national economic growth.
It’s plain to see that policymakers, more concerned with the next election than with the wellbeing of the next generation, have driven our nation into a deep fiscal hole by spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need, with no apparent plan for how to pay it back. Our nation and state must do better if we are to preserve for our children the free enterprise system that has made America’s economy the most dynamic in the history of the world.