November 25, 2016

Small Businesses Are Drivers Of West Virginia’s Economy | The Wheeling Intelligencer

As we celebrate Small Business Saturday, we must remember how many lives throughout our country are built on the American Dream — the idea that if you work hard and do the right thing, you will be rewarded.

From my grandfather’s grocery store, to my father’s furniture store, to my own carpet business, small business ownership has been an integral part of my family’s history in West Virginia. I have no doubt West Virginia’s thriving small business culture is due to Mountain State residents’ passionate, hardworking spirit and sense of entrepreneurship.

Small businesses form the backbone of West Virginia’s economy, making up more than 95 percent of our state’s employers. Our 115,000-plus small businesses employ nearly 300,000 people, the majority of our private sector workforce. Most important, West Virginia’s small businesses thrive, adapt, and remain competitive.

Because of this, our state’s economy grew more than twice as fast as the national economy in 2014. Our strong business community is a testament to the spirit and hardworking nature of the Mountain State.

We must continue to ensure that we have a strong business environment. While I’ve always said that the government cannot create jobs, the government can create an economic environment that promotes growth and entrepreneurship. As your U.S. senator, I remain committed to making sure that Washington enacts pro-growth policies for West Virginia and the entire country. With this priority in mind, I am working to help secure funding that will strengthen existing small businesses and will also help in the development of new ones.

Our state needs to diversify our economy and supporting small business development is essential to that goal.

Supporting small businesses in West Virginia and throughout the country also requires efforts that extend beyond our nation’s borders.  Since 2009, the Export-Import Bank worked with 13 small businesses in West Virginia, providing $32 million in loans to support $135 million in exports.

The family-owned Wheeling Truck Center is just one example of the many businesses in our state that has used the bank to expand internationally. Since it began exporting trucks and truck parts in 2010, Wheeling Truck Center has been recognized with the 2011 Export Achievement Award and with the 2014 President’s “E” Award for Exports, the highest recognition any business can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

The Ex-Im Bank is so important to our small businesses and our state’s economy, which I fought to reauthorize the bank’s charter in order to ensure West Virginia business growth.

The competitive, creative nature of small businesses is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of West Virginia. Creating jobs and fostering economic growth remains one of my number one priorities in Washington. With the right policies, I am confident that our state will continue to lead the way in small business growth and prosperity.

As we celebrate Small Business Saturday, I encourage all West Virginians to remember the values that built this country — hard work, determination, and a commitment to help others. We should thank all of our small business owners, because it is their entrepreneurship that continues to power West Virginia.