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by Tribune Staff
Feb 03, 2012 | 902 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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WASHINGTON — Small-business owners report that their main concern regarding an economic recovery is weak customer demand, rather than regulations, according to an independent opinion polling released Wednesday.

Commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority, and conducted by Lake Research Partners, the survey of 500 small-business owners between Dec. 8 and Jan. 4 up-ends some common perceptions.

The poll reports that 78 percent of small-business owners say regulations are needed to protect them from unfair competition in order to level the playing field with corporate America, and 86 percent view regulations as a necessary part of a modern, capitalist economy.

When asked what would do the most to create jobs, the top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas. Reducing regulation came in fifth.

“These survey results underscore what Main Street small-business owners have been saying all along: We need more customers, more demand, not deregulation,” said Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Ore., and a leader with the Main Street Alliance. “In fact, I’ve seen firsthand from over 35 years in the auto industry that smart standards help create jobs and promote innovation in the U.S. economy.”

Moreover, the poll reports that small-business owners see an important role for standards and safeguards. Nearly 80 percent believe some standards are important to protect small businesses from unfair competition and 76 percent believe regulations on the books should be enforced. And more than 90 percent agree their business can live with some regulation if it is fair, manageable and reasonable.

“Despite the heated rhetoric, regulations simply aren’t small businesses’ top concern,” said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. “Small businesses can be the jobs engine we need to jumpstart the economy, but not if legislators are focusing on something that isn’t their top problem. Policymakers should listen to what real small businesses are saying and act accordingly.”

About 78 percent of those polled support rules to prevent health insurance companies from increasing rates excessively; 84 percent support food safety standards; 80 percent support product safety standards; and 80 percent support disclosure and regulation of toxic materials.

“With football at the top of everyone’s mind, if we played the game with no rules the Super Bowl winner would come down to which team was bigger or willing to play dirtier,” said Frank Knapp, Jr., vice chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

“Well, regulations are the rules of the game we call private sector competition. An overwhelming percent of small business owners agree that without fair regulations creating a level playing field, small businesses won’t be able to compete against big businesses. From our perspective, the effort to kill regulations is big businesses’ way of rigging the game in their favor.”
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