Colorado Springs business owners said Thursday that they want simpler and easier-to-decipher federal regulations on everything from exports to health insurance to the environment.
They made the comments to U.S. Small Business Administration officials during a three-hour roundtable discussion attended by about 40 business owners at the Marriott Colorado Springs Hotel. The event, which followed a similar one in Fort Collins on Wednesday, was hosted by the SBA Office of Advocacy, which takes business owners’ concerns to whatever federal agency drafted and enforces the regulations at issue.
“The overwhelming desire of small business (from the roundtables) is for regulatory clarity,” said Charles Maresca, director of interagency affairs for the SBA Office of Advocacy in Washington, D.C., who returned to that theme several times during the event.
Patrick Bollar, founder of Diversified Machine Systems, said the Colorado Springs-based manufacturer of computer-controlled routers is nearly ready to give up on exporting because it can’t export its products to Spain even though a key component is made there. He cited export rules that bar exports of certain technologies to some countries, which he said make no sense because part of the machine is made in Spain, which is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a key U.S. ally.
“I import a control and integrate it into our product, but I can’t export the machine back to that country,” Bollar said
“I’ve spent 30 hours on this during the past two weeks reading the U.S. Code, spending up to 15 minutes per sentence, to the point where it was lost what these regulations were about. It isn’t clear whether they are trying to protect national security or trade secrets. I just don’t understand it. They are so complex, I don’t even want to (continue to) do it.”
Leacia Brilliant, president of Brazos Builders, said she wants to buy health insurance for her small Colorado Springs construction company but can’t find a policy that complies with the Affordable Care Act that wouldn’t bankrupt the company or force it to reduce its workforce.
“I want to offer my employees benefits, but I’ve found nothing affordable that will allow us to stay with the number of employees we have now at an affordable rate for our employees,” she said.
“I am the co-owner of the company, and the other owner has Medicare. But I don’t have any health insurance, and it seems there are fewer and fewer companies in Colorado that are offering coverage.”
Peter Schoenfeld, vice president of sales for Fireplace Warehouse Etc., which operates stores in Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins, said he is part of a trade association that is asking Congress to delay for three years a regulation on emissions from wood stoves that would leave stores like his with little inventory left to sell that would comply with the new standard. He said the industry needs more time to complete development and testing on new wood stoves.