Small business is back

It’s National Small Business Week, and there is plenty to celebrate – whether you own a small business, work for one, or are simply enjoying the benefits of an economy that is made healthier and more stable by the establishment and growth of small firms.

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While the ups and downs of the Main-Street-business sector don’t make headlines like the publicly-owned companies of Wall Street, the business health and sentiment of entrepreneurs is every bit as important to America’s economic strength. The small-business sector hasn’t always been as strong as it is today.

According to recent data from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small business hiring is so robust that business owners are having trouble finding enough qualified employees. According to NFIB, the small-business sector today is optimistic and highly productive.

Just a few years ago, many entrepreneurs felt that business ownership wasn’t worth it – the environment for starting and running a business felt bad enough that more Americans were closing businesses down than starting new ones. This negative turn in business dynamism, coupled with persistent pessimism in the small-business sector, was a bleak sign for future economic growth and job creation.

In the last two years, small-business optimism has turned around, dramatically. A federal public policy agenda that includes regulatory and tax relief has created an environment where America’s small-business owners feel hopeful once again.

Optimistic entrepreneurs do incredible things for an economy. They grow teams and take productive risks, including expanding inventories and investing in the development of new products or services.

Those who know the power of the small-business sector have not been one bit surprised by the recent government jobs reports, which have shown two years of robust job creation and a steady decline in unemployment across every demographic group. Those who only watch the stock market may be skeptical – but it is Main Street that creates two-thirds of America’s net new jobs, not Wall Street.

Will this new heyday for small business last? All Americans must hope so, because there is truly nothing “small” about small business.

History tells us that while government cannot create or grow small businesses (or the jobs that Main Street generates), our leaders do have quite a bit of influence over whether the environment is conducive to entrepreneurship.

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If leaders in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals, can keep taxes low and regulations reasonable, America’s small-businesses sector will continue to feel optimistic. Entrepreneurs will continue to start and grow businesses, create new jobs and play their incredible role in making our economy the envy of the world.

By creating the right environment, every week can be Small Business Week.

Hector Barreto is Chairman of The Latino Coalition and former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.