Election and economy on minds of many local small businesses

By Hannah Bleau | gargoyle@flagler.edu

As the 2012 Presidential election draws closer, local business owner Dave Richie fears that if the economy doesn’t recover soon, it will jeopardize his business’ existence.

To local business owners, the 2012 Presidential election is more than a partisan battle. As the economy continues its slow recovery, many see it as a determining factor for the future of their businesses. In fact, the recession has not been kind to small businesses. More than 200,000 have gone under between 2008 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Even with signs of recovery, many local business owners say they are skeptical. Dave Riche, owner of local sprinkler company Water Solutions, said the state of small business is more critical than the average consumer might realize. “I can’t hire employees because of fear of what’s going to happen,” he said.

Richie’s business has been hit hard in the last 5 years, and it’s causing some concerns. “I think the main thing is the over-regulation, not just Obama, but the entire administration,” Richie said. “It just feels like every time you turn around, there’s another regulation. Something else that’s going to either put us out of business or try.”

Studies show that small businesses are hurting. Gallup recently released a poll revealing that 35 percent of business owners approve of President Obama’s economic recovery, while 59 percent disapprove.

Rob Bleau, owner of Wholesale Carpets, thinks the effects might be more indirect. The unemployment rate is just under 8 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis shows that unemployment among high school graduates is 8.8 percent.

According to these local business owners, restriction of money flow seems to be one of the main problems. With no work, people have less money. Less money results in less money spent, which directly affects small businesses.

John McLain, a local telecommunication broker, directs his concern to consumer confidence. “Because we sell a service and a good that is a capital investment, there has been a lack of spending because of uncertainty, and (of) selling telephone hardware,” McLain said. “And people have been holding on to their pennies.”

He worries about other issues, as well, including the full implementation of ObamaCare. “Insurance is already expensive enough for small business,” he said. “So adding more cost to small business isn’t going to help anything, and they’re not going to be able to hire more people.”

Many mall business owners say they are hurting, and they need the economy to recover quickly for survival. “I’m not in love with Mitt Romney, but you know, any direction in a polar opposite to where we’ve been going is going to help small business,” McLain said.

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