ALPENA - Congressman Dan Benishek knows small businesses hold an important key to promoting job growth not only in the country, but also in northern Michigan.
In order to more fully understand the challenges small business owners face, Benishek has embarked on a "100 in 100" Tour that will take him across Michigan's 1st District where he will visit 100 small businesses in 100 days and listen to concerns and suggestions offered by entrepreneurs.
On Wednesday Benishek made stops in Rogers City and Alpena and visited several local shops and stores. He said he is sensitive of the problems facing these operations and has made it his mission to help them prosper and expand.
"We are trying to talk to the people in business to find out what the challenges they face and to see what we can do to make it easier for them," Benishek said. "We want them to do well and hire people in northern Michigan. I want to hear what these people have to say."
As Benishek makes his rounds, he said there is a reoccurring theme with the business owners. He said they tell him there are too many laws in place and unknowns related to the tax code to allow them to hire. He said rules set in place by departments such as the Environmental Protection Agency have hindered the businesses.
"They say the regulations from the federal government and departments like the EPA and all sorts of other things people have to cope with costs them money and makes it difficult for them to hire.," he said. "The uncertainty of the taxes and what is going to happen to our tax rates next year makes it difficult for them to make decisions."
Benishek said another factor in the slow job growth is the cost of health care. He said the president promised his health care plan would lower the cost for people to offer insurance, but in fact in has done just the opposite.
"The plan was supposed to make it easier for people, but frankly people are worried about the increase in the cost and whether they are going to be able to continue to offer health care to their employees," Benishek said. "I have met people who have said they are going to have to stop offering health care and take the penalty, because we can't offer health care and keep our doors open. There is a lot of uncertainty out there."
Even though Washington releases the closely watched job reports, Benishek said it is not the one creating jobs. He said what the government needs to do is give business owners the necessary tools to make hiring a necessity.
"We are talking to the people and listening to what they have to say because we should be responsive to the job creators in northern Michigan who create the jobs," Benishek said. "The government doesn't create the jobs, it is the people in small business who create jobs up, and I want those people to do well and hire more people. The reason I ran for Congress in the first place was because I was concerned about my children and grandchildren and what is going to happen to them. Are they going to have the opportunity for the American dream like I had? That's becoming more and more difficult now days. That is why I want to promote some policies that will allow our children and grandchildren to flourish and do well in Michigan."
While in Rogers City Benishek visited the Painted Lady Cafe and Jean's Gifts, and in Alpena he made stops at Country Cousins, Downtown Scoops, Bliss Painting, Bay Athletic Club and Court Yard Ristorante.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.