Indiana lawmakers get earful from voices of small business
By Rick Yencer
YORKTOWN, IN - Mark Hagar was blunt with area lawmakers when he talked about why small business in Indiana was not expanding or adding jobs.
Besides asking how the Statehouse could eliminate property taxes, Hagar, who runs a Fort Wayne printing company called Specialized Printed Products, also said small businesses were frozen in hiring because of affordable health care costs.
About 25 people gathered at Todd Murray's new Mursix plant in Park One off Interstate 69 Friday morning to talk with a small business caucus of the Indiana General Assembly.
Barbara Quandt, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, came up with the idea to make lawmakers do a summer road show and find out what's on the minds of small business owners and how lawmakers can help.
When it comes to property taxes, State Rep. Terry Austin, D-Anderson said eliminating a $1 billion revenue stream was a big gap to fill besides figuring out how to fund government and schools.
Hagar and other small business owners did not think $1 billion represented alot of money given the state spends more than $26 billion. He also said many businesses were not hiring because of the cost of affordable care.
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson said there had been lots of debate of taxes during the last session with lawmakers eliminating the inheritance tax and cutting corporate income taxes.
But Murray and Steve Smith, president of Midwest Metal Products, talked about the gap of skilled workers and even employees with "soft skills" like just showing up for work on time and coming well groomed with a good attitude.
There's been plenty of studies to suggest that there are many jobs like machine operators and other skilled trades where qualified workers don't exist.
Mayor Dennis Tyler talked about a job training program where he partnered with the state and provided a month of intensive education and training with the guarantee of a job interview. But the mayor invests hundreds of tax dollars in each person that is trained and educated, adding that more state money needed to go toward intensive and skilled job training.
Murray said he offering training to Yorktown high school students who were interested in advanced manufacturing and even agreed to transport them to the plant to help add to his workforce. Mursix makes a variety of automotive, appliance and energy parts.
Mark Bryant, a NFIB field representative, also mentioned eliminating personal property taxes on older equipment and vehicles as a way to ease taxes on small business owners.
And John Fallon, Ball State associate vice president of economic development and community engagement, offered the university's help with its Building Better Communities program that helps improve economic development hopes through responsive local government, good schools, and a qualified workforce.
Nationally, the NFIB has seen a decline in hiring among small business owners during the summer and the new hires were generally part time.
William Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist, also found the increase in second quarter GDP from 1.7 to 2.5 percent was driven almost entirely by gains in exports and inventory accumulation, neither that involves small business.