November marked Small Business Saturday wherein consumers were encouraged to visit their local small business and “shop small.” SBS was started by American Express in 2010 and now generates $5.5 billion for small businesses and their local communities.

Shopping small is a big deal for our economy and indeed our community. According to the Small Business Administration, there are close to 28 million small businesses that create nearly two-thirds of all new net private sector jobs. In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business, 52 cents stays in the local community. This investment in the local economy leads to more jobs, improved  local schools, roads and the overall economic development of a community.

small business owners are more than just numbers. They are innovators, local leaders, parents and family members. Many have risked their life savings, mortgaged their homes and/or left the security of “stable” employment in order to pursue their American Dream.

- Michael Barrera

In many cases, small businesses transform into big business. Companies like Walmart, Columbia Sportswear, Hewlett Packard, and Under Amour are just a few companies that started small and are now leading corporate citizens within their communities. Not only do these corporations generate employment for millions of Americans but also translate to millions of dollars in taxes, and many of them continue to do business with small businesses.

However, it is important to realize that small business owners are more than just numbers. They are innovators, local leaders, parents and family members. Many have risked their life savings, mortgaged their homes and/or left the security of “stable” employment in order to pursue their American Dream. There are no guarantees of success in small business. The only guarantee is hard work, tough access to capital, and time away from their loved ones- all in the pursuit of prosperity. 

Entrepreneurs desperately need a change in attitude from public officials when it comes to the increasing regulatory burden on small businesses. According to the latest figures from the SBA, federal regulations alone cost small businesses over 10 thousand dollars per year, per employee in time and money. This doesn’t include the myriad of local permits, licensing requirements and additional local regulations that small businesses must comply with. This statistic is particularly burdensome on Hispanics, who start businesses at more than twice the national rate. 

Additionally, small business owners face the looming uncertainty of "Obamacare" and whether they can afford to insure their employees and indeed themselves. Beginning in 2015, employers with more than 50 employees will now face a minimum $2,000 penalty for each full time employee if it does not offer a health plan that complies with the laws regulations. Such penalties and mandates inhibit already struggling small businesses from growing and expanding.
 
It is no surprise that the country's economic recovery lies squarely on the shoulders of these hard working job creators. Hispanic businesses alone are estimated to contribute more than $460 billion to our nation’s economy. So, it is important that local communities support their neighborhood restaurants,  car shops, retailers, pharmacies and computer repair shops that are owned and operated by local business owners. After all, their success is our success.

Michael L. Barrera, an attorney, is the Western States Regional Director for The LIBRE Initiative and formerly served as President & CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as the National Ombudsman for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Learn more about The LIBRE Initiative on their website at www.thelibreinitiative.com, their Facebook page “The LIBRE Initiative” or by following them on Twitter at @libreinitiative.

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