Welcome to the West

Colorado River
Across this nation, we have large and small; east and west; oceans, lakes and mountains; and people whose goals make us thrive, grow, and move forward. Our natural curiosity, creativity and desire to succeed has fostered an environment of small business growth over generations, back to our country’s founding. These small businesses built our great economy, and the economy in turn nurtures the growth of existing and new small businesses.

In the six states I cover as region VIII advocate for the Office of Advocacy—Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming—industries and small businesses proliferate. These are both traditional and enduring as well as incredibly innovative and pioneering (in a 21st–century sense). From agriculture, ranching, farming and mining to a meteoric growth in new energy development, the West is alive with small business culture and spirit.

Throughout my travels in these western states I have marveled at the unparalleled respect for this country’s natural assets. Not just the richness of land and soil, but lakes, streams, air, wind, sunshine and wildlife; all have a purpose and all should be protected and respected as our businesses continue to utilize them in this country’s natural economic growth. Attempts to exploit these resources should be met with balance, and preservation attempts ought to be encouraged.

Many of the small businesses I have met with hew to this philosophy, all the while crafting ingenious business models that portend great growth and opportunity. From the small business development culture at NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) in Denver, to the wind farm developments across Wyoming, North and South Dakota, there are tremendous opportunities at harvesting renewable energy resources and advancing seemingly unimaginable ideas from the stage of inventive inkling to practical solution.

Small business entrepreneurs are developing cooling mechanisms that use up to 90 percent less energy to cool buildings. They are also developing lighting solutions using direct sunlight and using little or no energy to do so. They are creating reactive windows that “know” when to darken to reflect unwarranted sunlight and heat, yet respond to colder outside climate to allow more heat inside. They are also utilizing more solar, wind, hydro- and geothermal technologies to provide energy and developing methods of extracting bio-fuels from agricultural products.

Much like respecting the balance of utilizing our natural resources, the balance between regulation and free range capitalistic exploitation is of paramount concern. As I travel and speak with small businesses about Advocacy’s role in representing all small business interests in the federal regulatory process I routinely extol regulations as protecting the public health and welfare and the need for these regulations to protect our resources against unwarranted abuse. The trick is finding that balance that will continue to allow for protection and advancement, exploitation and preservation.

Advocacy is listening.  We continue to build on the idea that regulations need small business input and continued examination. Small businesses want government to help foster these exciting advances in resource development yet understand what may warrant excessive intrusion into their business development philosophy. Advocacy helps relay small business concerns and issues to all parts of the federal government. Advocacy wants to help those pioneers and innovators out West and all over this country to continue on their imaginative course unwavering.

When viewing this nation’s history, there does not seem much that can contain our spirit, our growth and our need to seek further in education and advancement. T.E. Lawrence said, “I cannot fiddle, but I can make a great state of a small city.” The West is a place defined by its great states and small cities; its small businesses and great aspirations. We will continue to grow and prosper, all the while finding our balance and making our states great.

—John W. Hart, Region VIII Advocate

John Hart is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate for Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

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