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U.S. National Debt:

Main Street Focus

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Main Streets are the heart of our communities.  Families and friends gather for parades and other local celebrations along Main Streets.  Children trick-or-treat in Main Street businesses, and folks come together in Main Street establishments for buying, selling, entertainment and local charitable events.  These hubs also often signify the vitality of the area and attract visitors and other businesses.  Small businesses are central to keeping Main Streets across the state and nation bustling and attracting other commerce to the community. 

Unfortunately, downtown business vacancies are an ongoing challenge many rural communities across the nation struggle to address, and national and local programs and groups have been working diligently to preserve and restore Main Street vitality.  The solutions are not simple, as every community has a unique mix of qualities.  However, maintaining a constant, locally-driven dialogue to identify needed improvements and learn from other communities' successes is an ongoing necessity. 

Maintaining businesses on Main Streets involves both a focus on the needs of the businesses that are currently in operation as well as a focus on how to encourage new entrepreneurship to replace businesses that go out of business or relocate.  The uncertain, overly-complicated federal tax system and the increasing cost of compliance with federal mandates are among the burdens on small businesses that have supported local economies for years while struggling to compete.  These businesses provide jobs and support local priorities, such as sponsorships of local sports teams and much more, while facing growing financial burdens.  Decreasing obstacles to success and a focus on the needs of these economic engines are essential. 

Dan Danner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small business owners, recently editorialized, "Unlike Washington, Main Street entrepreneurs pull their own weight, pay their taxes and play by the government's constantly changing rules.  They don't fool themselves with fuzzy-math or tell their employees one thing, then do the opposite.  When they take risks, they accept full responsibility for the results.  They expect the same from their government:  stop digging the nation's sinking debt hole and end the dangerous class warfare that's poisoning future generations of entrepreneurs.  Small business built America, can rebuild it and keep it strong."  I agree.     

Additionally, tax and regulatory uncertainties as well as a tough economic climate can make it intimidating for many would-be job producers to start small businesses.  The capital and other assets required to start a business leverage many entrepreneurs to their limits.  Resources are available to assist entrepreneurs with the process.  The U.S. Small Business Administrationassists those thinking about starting a business with information regarding access to mentors, business and financial plan preparation, loans and grants, business laws and regulations, license and permits and local resources.  These and other resources can be instrumental in helping with the process.

While we continue to grapple for an answer to the question of what the next big advancement is for rural communities, continued focus on locally-driven solutions is required to ease the path for existing small businesses and startups.  These continued efforts are needed to keep our Main Streets and communities thriving.  

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