Small Business Focus: 2002 remains challenge for business

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2002


While small business scored a number of major legislative victories in 2001, don’t expect 2002 to be a cakewalk. America’s small-business owners may be breathing a sigh of relief now that our nation has successfully responded to the horror of terrorism, but the challenges facing Main Street’s entrepreneurs are no less serious today than they were before Sept. 11.

Small business won some hard-fought victories last year, such as – providing major tax relief, rolling back the ill-conceived ergonomics regulation, expanding the number of businesses that can use the cash accounting method and helping elect five more pro-small business candidates to Congress. But we cannot rest on our laurels.

We must be alert to efforts by those who would expand the government involvement in our businesses. There will be attempts to raise the minimum wage. There is new talk about Clinton-era solutions to the health care dilemma. All of this will play out even as Congress and the administration must devote considerable time and attention to matters of national security.

We must keep our small and independent businesses running with maximum efficiency to do our part in maintaining the strength of our nation’s economy. At the same time, we must step up our efforts to convince Capitol Hill that small business will thrive and grow only if it is spared further government intrusion.

Expect 2002 to be a year of diversion, distraction and disruption. It is a congressional election year and the partisan posturing has already begun.

Fortunately, small-business owners possess an amazing ability to focus intently on things of importance. The challenges we face in a sluggish economy and a troubled international environment offer a unique opportunity for us to offer assistance and guidance to our elected leaders. By stepping up our political grassroots activities, by getting more active in key election campaigns, by showing our strong support for those who are staunch defenders of free enterprise, we can serve our nation and preserve the principles we hold dear.

National security must be first and foremost in the minds of everyone, whether running a one-person business or serving as the CEO of a major blue-chip corporation. No one sector of our economy or society comes ahead of protecting our country.

We as business people have an obligation to continue to produce the goods, deliver the services and create the jobs so critical to America’s economic well-being. To do that, we need to help our lawmakers find solutions to the problems which plague us, such as the skyrocketing cost of health-care coverage for small firms and the burdensome bureaucracy that sucks the vitality out of our ventures. That means speaking out at every opportunity to remind our elected officials of the limits to government’s role in a free-market economy.

We recently rediscovered a fundamental truth about the American spirit. When tested by the most severe measures, we rise, we respond, we prevail.

As small business prepare to face the challenges of 2002, we can find strength in the knowledge that as living examples of the American Dream, we give guidance to our leaders and inspiration to our fellow citizens.

JACK FARIS is president of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s largest small-business advocacy group. More information is available online at