Bob Goodlatte: Small businesses have large impacts on local economies

goodlattefourinDriving through the Sixth Congressional District is a lesson in the role small businesses play in shaping and growing our communities. Whether it’s a hardware store that’s been around for generations, an assisted living facility that prides itself on quality care, or a tech startup paving the way forward, small businesses are instrumental in driving local economies and providing jobs for our family members, neighbors, and friends. In fact, half of America’s workforce in the private sector is employed by small businesses.

As we mark Small Business Week, it is important that we applaud the men and women who are behind them. Small business owners are no strangers to sacrifice. They sacrifice their time by putting in long hours, and, in some cases, their own pay to ensure that employees receive a pay check. A recent report found that 67 percent of small business owners would delay or reduce their own compensation in order to make ends meet.

As any small business owner or entrepreneur can attest, many challenges are faced on a daily basis. One of these is the uncertainty of costly government mandates and regulations. It’s a significant challenge for these businesses to understand and comply with poorly crafted and ever-growing regulations. Small businesses deserve a voice in Washington.

Earlier this year, I was proud to support the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act both in the House Judiciary Committee and the full House of Representatives. This bill delivers a simple, common sense mandate to the Executive Branch: Work together with small businesses and design smarter, less burdensome rules that account for their unique concerns. It only makes sense that those imposing regulations in Washington would be required to communicate better with the small business community and actively search for ways to reduce unnecessary burdens.

American innovation is critical to a competitive global economy, and many small businesses are at the forefront of that innovation. In fact, small businesses “produce 16.5 times more patents per employee than large firms.” However, this innovation is all too often threatened by abusive patent lawsuits. Many small businesses do not have access to the resources required to defend themselves. Forty percent of small companies threatened with a patent lawsuit reported a “significant operational impact” such as delayed hiring. My bill, theInnovation Act, would address these costly, unfair practices and help strengthen the patent system to ensure the protection of American inventions and innovation. The Innovation Act has strong bipartisan support, and I am working to see these important protections approved by Congress.

The impact of small businesses on our local economies is anything but small. More than 1.4 million Virginians are employed by these businesses. It’s these folks who are building an economy of opportunity, and Congress has the opportunity now to advance policies that protect free enterprise, create certainty in the tax code, and cut red tape.

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.