COLUMN: Cemetery effort is an example of bipartisan success
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In 2018, small business is extremely political. Small-business owners as a community are very interested in what is happening in the world of politics. Trends in politics like tax cuts affect business owners. Likewise, the political community is interested in what is happening in the world of business. Business trends like the uptick in business growth will affect politicians. Small-business owners and politicians may be strange bedfellows, but they share a bond whether they wish to or not.

Like many other political groups, the small- business community has a gathering to discuss the "State of the Union". The 3rd Annual State of Small Business was hosted recently by the UCCS Economic Forum and the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center. The purpose of the event was to bring smallbusiness owners, chambers of commerce, business organizations, governmental business agencies, politicians, and professionals from all fields together to examine the state of small business locally, statewide and nationally.

The first presenter presenting data about the small-business community locally in El Paso, Teller and Park County was Aikta Marcourlier, the Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center. The small business development center has a mission to help existing and new businesses grow and prosper through free business consulting, mentorship, affordable business education and events.

This organization was happy to report an increase locally in new business starts, job creation, and jobs retained (yes, they track that). Unemployment was low - 2.6 percent. They tracked the capital infusion into this area at $84 million. And it is common knowledge in these circles that our city is experiencing a worker shortage. Sounds like good news.

The next presenter presenting information about the small-business community was Tatiana Bailey, director of the UCCS Economic Forum. The UCCS Economic Forum provides the local community with timely and accurate economic data to help inform business and government decision making as well as creating educational forums for the public.

Their view of the small-business community was favorable as well. They shared about 112,300 new business filings in 2017 alone. Currently, Colorado is ranked #6 in the nation as being favorable for small business. According to their research 72 percent of small businesses are feeling confident about the Colorado economy. More good news.

Our final presenter was Stephanie Copeland - Executive Director, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). This office works with statewide partners to create a positive business climate. They strive to advance the state's economy through financial and technical assistance in support of local and regional economic development activities throughout Colorado.

Copeland brought the national data. The state of small business in America is quite good. Employer establishments with less than 20 workers comprise 98 percent of all U.S. businesses. Minority small-business ownership is at an all time high with 8 million firms on record. National unemployment numbers are also low at just 3.8 percent.

She also shared what small-business owners want nationally from surveys and studies. Important issues to small-business owners included business regulation rollback, improving access to capital and health care reform. But the number one request to the political community from the small-business community nationally is:

End partisan gridlock.

Surprised? As the major driver of the economy in our nation, the small-business community can bring jobs and benefits to many of our citizens. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that these things should be the aim of Congress and the White House as well. Good legislation and good business practices together can create a rising tide that can lift all boats.

For better or worse, the small-business community and the political community must be connected to one another in healthy ways to increase job growth and further stimulate our economy. The outgrowth of business profit is often helping the economy with infusions of the capital that it takes to expand. And expanding business equals new jobs.

Hey Congress and the White House - small-business owners are talking to you. Try to listen.

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Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.

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