Home > News > How to help the drivers of job growth
 Return to previous page


How to help the drivers of job growth

By Loren Steffy
Houston Chronicle
July 16, 2011

If the entire economy could have fit into the room at Houston's Lakeside Country Club, it would be fixed.

The 30 or so people who gathered there recently exuded a determination and self-reliance that remains undaunted by the Great Recession and the Not-So-Great Recovery. The annual Entrepreneurs Workshop, sponsored by Services Cooperative Association, brought together small-business owners, entrepreneurs and the businesses and services to help them grow.

Executive Director C. Dean Kring is a ponytailed evangelist for small businesses solving their own problems and not waiting for the government to provide solutions.

He talked of how small-business owners are infused with "entrepreneurons" that are like energy particles for economic development.

"Entrepreneurons tend to thrive, propagate and increase in a free enterprise system, excepting those environments in which bureaucracies are found to predominate," he said. "Entrepreneurons comprise the greatest economic energy resource in the United States."

By the time I left, I started to believe I could feel them bouncing around the room.

Outside, though, the reality beat down like the unrelenting July sun. A recent U.S. Bancorp survey of more than 1,000 small businesses nationwide found that almost three-fourths have no plans to expand in the next year.

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Businesses optimism index fell again in May, its third straight month of decline. Across the country, small businesses are struggling to get by as costs rise, customers remain skittish about spending and, most of all, credit remains hard to find.

They didn't cause it

While entrepreneurs may extol the virtues of not relying on the government, they shouldn't have to in an economy like this.

Small-business owners didn't cause the financial crisis, but they play a key role in rebuilding from it, and it is among small businesses that government should be focusing its support.

Too much of the federal stimulus efforts have merely strengthened the bond between big business and big government, either by awarding contracts to large companies or by literally handing them money. I'm looking at you, General Motors.

Sure, bailouts for GM and Chrysler saved a lot of jobs, but how many jobs will they create over the long term? Big manufacturers have been boosting productivity for years — a never-ending quest to make more stuff with fewer people.

If oil is yesterday's fuel, then auto plants are yesterday's economic development.

Last month, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued a report saying that almost $98 billion in federal contracts, or almost 23 percent of contract dollars spent by the government, went to small businesses.

That's roughly the amount that's required under federal contracting laws.

Critical of data

The American Small Business League, which focuses on federal contracting issues that affect small businesses, has long criticized the SBA's data. The group, based in Petaluma, Calif., says many of the contracts actually go to large companies like AT&T, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett-Packard that use subsidiaries that are mistaken for or disguised as small businesses.

The percentage of federal contract dollars awarded to actual small businesses is closer to 5 percent, said Brian Reeder, an ASBL public affairs analyst.

"What we're finding in our data is that a lot of these contracts that the SBA is saying are going to small business are actually going to large businesses," Reeder said.

The SBA maintains that its data is as accurate as it can be.

Government contracts are an important opportunity for small businesses, and it's the kind of stimulus that provides real benefit for taxpayers, the economy and, of course, the business owners.

"They need someone to sell goods and services to, and the government is the biggest buyer of goods and services," Reeder said. "It seems like a no-brainer. It seems like you'd want to shift more demand to those chief job creators."

In other words, it seems like you'd want to tap into those entrepreneurons in rooms like that one at the Lakeside Country Club and help channel it toward creating jobs and rebuilding the economy.



Press Room Search
Search for Media

Press Contacts

Reid Brownlie
Communications Contact

American Small Business League
3910 Cypress Dr., Suite B
Petaluma, CA 94954

707-789-9575 | fax 707-789-9580
email to rbrownlie@asbl.com




©2019 American Small Business League | Contact Us | Lloyd Chapman | 3910 Cypress Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954 | (707) 789 9575