EDITORIAL: Small business to be crucial in COVID recovery

South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott and Minnesota Democratic Sen. and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar may not be seen as allies on many issues, but they are in putting emphasis on the major problems being faced by small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During the recent National Entrepreneurship Week, the two reintroduced the bipartisan Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act. The act would require the secretary of commerce to work with partners at all relevant government agencies to conduct a comprehensive study into the underlying factors driving the current “startup slump.”

“There is a difference between being wealthy and creating wealth, and as a former small business owner, I was able to both earn a living and help others to reach their full potential,” Scott said. “As we emerge from the pandemic, our job in Congress will be to implement commonsense policies that will allow our nation’s entrepreneurs to rebuild our economy. My bipartisan Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act is just one of the many tools we can enact to get the American economy back on track.”

The latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index shows entrepreneurs have their doubts about the future. The index declined in January to 95.0, down 0.9 from December and three points below the 47-year average of 98.

Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months declined seven points to a net negative 23%, the lowest level since November 2013. The net percent of owners expecting better business conditions has fallen 55 points over the past four months.
“As Congress debates another stimulus package, small employers welcome any additional relief that will provide a powerful fiscal boost as their expectations for the future are uncertain,” National Federation of Independent Business Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to dictate how small businesses operate, and owners are worried about future business conditions and sales.”

State-specific data isn’t available, but NFIB S.C. Director Ben Homeyer said, “These are frustrating and difficult times for small businesses and other employers, but owners are hopeful the worst of the pandemic is behind us and things will get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

The senators are out front in pushing for the sooner.

As Klobuchar states: “Entrepreneurship and innovation are key to our economic prosperity and are needed more than ever as we rebuild our economy and put the pandemic behind us.”