This week marks National Small Business Week and it couldn't have been better timed. Every week seems to bring more news of job cuts. In fact, unemployment in New York is higher than it's been in nearly 10 years. We're not sure when we'll see a turnaround on jobs, but experts are quite certain about what will drive that recovery when it comes: small businesses.
After all, small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. It is Main Street - not Wall Street - that creates approximately 75 percent of all new jobs added to the economy, that represents 99 percent of all employers and makes up more than half of our gross domestic product (GDP).
While Small Business Week is a time for celebration, it should also be a time for reflection. Nationally, 3.3 million private sector jobs have been lost since January 2001 and unemployment hovers at above 6 percent. New York's unemployment lines have swelled by nearly 200,000 people in that time, now totaling nearly 600,000 people.
This should be a week when we pay tribute to small businesses. It is their energy, flexibility and innovation that are the key to getting our economy back on track. It is a little-known fact that during times of economic downturns and recessions, start-ups flourish. Those individuals who have lost their jobs decide to try their hand at opening a business. Rents are cheap and overhead and labor costs are low. Then these businesses create jobs and expand economic growth in our local communities.
Lower taxes will also help. I voted in favor of tax cuts in 2001 and am confident that they softened the recession. Unfortunately, rising health care costs, less small business access to federal contracts and federal budget cuts to aid programs have hamstrung small businesses at the time they needed help the most.
We should provide permanent, targeted tax relief to small businesses, help small business owners provide health care for themselves, their employees and their families, direct federal agencies to make their regulations more small business friendly and open up the $235 billion federal marketplace to small businesses.
Small business will be the engine of economic recovery, but only if we give them the tools to move ahead. It's time serious help for small businesses became a top priority for this administration - and for this Congress.