Encourage Small Business Growth

If you manage a big business, chances are state officials will pay close attention when you tell them what it will take to convince you to bring new jobs to West Virginia. You can expect direct financial help, perhaps through a tax increment financing district. You can count on local and state governments finding ways to help you with a site, including road access to it. Throughout the process, you can rely on being catered to by economic development agencies.

But what if you are small, perhaps just starting in business? You’re on your own, for the most part.

Efforts are being made to help small businesses. Secretary of State Mac Warner has important initiatives to make it easier for them to navigate interactions with government. The Department of Commerce has programs to assist them.

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw thinks state government needs to do more.

Hanshaw, R-Clay, became speaker on an interim basis earlier this fall when former Speaker Tim Armstead left to become a state Supreme Court justice. On Sunday, delegates voted to keep Hanshaw as speaker.

After the vote, Hanshaw was asked about his priorities for the legislative session that beings in January.

Spurring entrepreneurial growth is critical, Hanshaw answered. “We spend an awful lot of time here and do an awful lot of work to recruit external companies to West Virginia. We don’t do enough to make it easy for people to start and grow something here,” he told Metro News.

Luring a big corporation bringing hundreds of jobs is appealing, of course. But the state’s economy runs on small businesses. Eighty-seven percent of our companies have 20 or fewer employees.

“We are one of the lowest states for entrepreneurial activity in the nation,” Hanshaw said Sunday. “That’s got to stop.”

Doing more too encourage business creation and expansion of small enterprises should be a priority for both the legislative and executive branches of state government.


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