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News State / Region Catching up with Kay: Listen to small business owners

U.S. Senator Kay HaganNorth Carolina’s economy depends on people like Oscar Wong. Oscar started the Highland Brewing Company nearly 20 years ago as a hobby in the basement of a taproom in downtown Asheville. Since then, he has grown the brewery from a three-person operation to a 40- person company that ships beer all over the Southeast.

Oscar didn’t start his business looking to win any awards, but last year the Small Business Administration named him North Carolina’s Small Business Person of the Year.

With his experience building a small business from the ground up - or basement up, in his case - Oscar was a natural choice to co-chair my newly formed Small Business Advisory Committee, which will advise me on legislative issues and help me develop policy proposals to support our state’s small businesses.

As our economy continues to recover, I’m looking to small business owners like Oscar for new ways we can jumpstart hiring and growth in every corner of our state. The Advisory Committee, which is composed of four cochairs and 15-20 small business owners and advocates, will meet with me and my staff throughout the year.

Congress has taken bipartisan steps recently to help our small businesses. We’ve passed legislation to help companies raise money, go public and hire more workers. We’ve reauthorized the Export-Import Bank to support $2 billion worth of sales for 165 North Carolina companies, the majority of which are small businesses. And I’ve reintroduced my bipartisan AMERICA Works Act to close the skills gap and help businesses find qualified workers for jobs that are available today.

But I’ve found that the best way to promote small business growth is by talking with North Carolinians on the ground. They are the ones working day-in, day-out to run a successful business, foster new ones, and create a better, more economically vibrant community in the process.

The Advisory Committee will provide advice and policy ideas on how Congress can best help. Sometimes that means getting Congress out of the way; other times it may mean fixing or revising outdated regulations.

As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I am looking forward to taking their input, feedback and ideas and giving them a voice in Washington as we work to craft legislation that affects small businesses. I plan to hold quarterly conference calls with committee members to hear about conditions facing small businesses in North Carolina. This type of dialogue is critical to ensuring policies in Washington reflect the real needs of our small businesses.

One thing I already know is that Washington has to set aside the bickering and provide some certainty for small businesses in order for them to thrive. To that end, I’m working on legislation that would make permanent the temporary 15-year depreciation schedule. This will allow businesses to write off certain expenses much sooner, plan for the future and spend resources on expanding and hiring new workers instead of paying more taxes.

I am eager to hear from the Advisory Committee about the most pressing needs for small businesses, and I will be ready to take their advice and policy ideas to Washington.

Follow Senator Kay Hagan on Twitter @SenatorHagan, visit the Senator’s Facebook page or view videos on the Senator’s YouTube channel.


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