Romer: A business preview of 2020
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy; 90 percent of local businesses have 20 or less employees and 80 percent of businesses have 10 or less employees. While our few large employers may grab the headlines, the fact is our business success is incumbent upon helping our small businesses thrive.
It is common knowledge that we have a workforce problem. Established businesses overwhelmingly plan to expand their operations and add employees, yet more jobs exist than people to fill them. Our livability factors (housing, health care, early childhood, transit) are well recognized and have coordinated efforts in place to work to address them.
Less recognized is the lack of a pro-business attitude coming from the state Capitol. The legislative session will officially begin soon, but it’s already looking to be challenging for Colorado’s business community. Vail Valley Partnership works closely with a variety of state associations and organizations to closely monitor issues that are important to your business and to ensure that Eagle County — and Colorado — provides a business-friendly environment.
Let’s start by stipulating a few things: Businesses, large and small, are the engine of our economy. They provide employment and quality of life begins with a good job. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure a thriving and growing business sector. Legislators have a responsibility to do whatever they can reasonably do to grow the economy, encourage local business growth, and increase employment.
So, what exactly does it mean to be “business-friendly?”
There are ideological anti-tax activists who will argue that being business-friendly simply means cutting taxes — no matter what the impact is (or, perhaps, precisely because of the impact on government services). They might argue that it means slashing regulation and limiting litigation — all in the name of the free market.
A more moderate approach to being business-friendly might be focused on ensuring that businesses have access to a high-quality educated workforce, efficient and well-maintained transportation systems, public safety and a lack of burdensome regulations, taxes, and fees.
Being “business-friendly” is a pretty subjective subject. It is hard to measure how business-friendly our community might be as there are no universal and objective measurements available. If you look at what businesses are really asking for — a trained workforce, transportation and communications (broadband) infrastructure, workforce housing — you’ll see that while we are hitting the mark on a number of business-friendly attributes, we still face challenges.
Colorado legislators need to stay focused on accomplishing their goals while not creating new and unwieldy burdens on the business community through increased fees and taxes. This includes the reinsurance, public option, and family leave bills sure to be moving through the legislature in 2020. These are sure to impact businesses — and communities around the state — moving forward.
To be clear, we are supportive of efforts to develop innovative health care and family leave policies at a state level; however, we will continue to advocate for the state to not take a heavy-handed approach, which results in leaving too many questions still unanswered, details for implementation of proposals too vague, this resulting in increased burdens on the business community. It is important to remain focused on creating and maintaining a business-friendly environment in order to have a robust, successful business sector, for a successful business sector is necessary to have a successful community.
As we reflect on the highlights of the past year, the Vail Valley Partnership team is grateful for our members, partners, and friends whose success inspires our work. Wishing you joy, good health, and prosperity in 2020.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.
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