Regulatory Roundtables Get to the Coeur of the Matter
By Prianka Sharma, Assistant Chief Counsel
Beautiful Coeur d’Alene was the setting of the second Regional Regulatory Roundtable in Idaho on July 13. Advocacy heard from more than 36 small business owners in various industries who came from Idaho, Montana and Washington to voice their concerns.
As one business owner put it best, the overall concern of small businesses in the area is having an equal playing field. She stated that there are only so many pieces of the pie, and often small businesses are simply unable to compete for their fair share.
Advocacy heard from several members of the timber, logging and forestry industries including the President of the Timber Product Manufacturers Association, the Idaho Forest Group, and the Associated Logging Contractors. Most, if not all, of these organizations stressed that there is a lack of log supply for the timber industry, and that in the last two years, eight saw mills have gone out of business. They stated that the Forest Service has stalled in amending the timber set aside rule, which would assist small businesses with getting federal timber sales. One business owner stated that some markets no longer have any small businesses open to support the SBA program because they have all gone out of business.
The Associated Logging Contractors, which has approximately 450 members all related to the industry, stated that the timber industry is the backbone of rural communities in the area, but that many contractors struggle to find work because there is simply not enough product available. Another issue they raised was regarding the length of it takes the Forest Service to accept bids for wildfire salvage trees. She stated that on average it takes a year or more and that the trees lose their value in this amount of time and can no longer be salvaged. In the summer of 2016, a wildfire burned over 180,000 acres or 294 square miles of land in Boise, and private land owners were able to salvage the trees by the fall and winter of the same year, much faster than getting access to federal lands.
Advocacy also heard from Mark Freeman, owner of Kuma Stoves Inc. a manufacturer of wood stoves, fireplace inserts and barbecues. Freeman has been building stoves for 37 years. Freeman employed the “show and tell” method for his remarks, demonstrating the effects regulation has on his products by displaying a set of pipes, one 15 times longer than the other. Freeman spoke about the Environmental Protection Agency’s New Source Performance Standards. He stated that if a car had to comply with current emissions standards, everyone would have had to walk to the meeting. Freeman also spoke about how wood stoves will not work the way they were designed to if they continue to be regulated in such a stringent manner. He stated that it would cost approximately $35,000 per model to get a stove through testing and certification.
Hugh Himmelreich, owner of a travel management company, also spoke about the toll regulation has had on his business, stating that his office in Coeur d’Alene shut down due to the economy and regulations. He stated that the only way they are able to get business is through subcontracting with larger agencies. He stated that they have lost more than 50 percent of their business due to contract bundling. In addition, he voiced concerns about current size standards for small businesses, stating that the size standard went from $3 to $19 million in revenue and that he is now competing with businesses that were once considered large and are six to seven times the size of his business.
Advocacy also heard from a member of Washington Trust Bank, an Aerospace Group, and members of the National Association of Home Builders who spoke about other regulatory concerns including Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Department of Energy’s energy efficiency standards, and labor regulations including the overtime rule.
Advocacy left Idaho enlightened by the unique challenges facing small businesses in the region, and with a renewed sense of purpose to continue to advocate to get small businesses “their fair share of the pie.”
Advocacy was in Idaho and Washington for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables July 11-13.
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For more information on Advocacy’s mission, our regulatory reform efforts or to find out where the next Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables will be held, please visit: https://advocacy.sba.gov/regulation/regulatory-reform/.
Prianka Sharma is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes agriculture, energy, and natural resources. Sharma can be reached at Prianka.email@example.com.
Region’s Major Industries Have Their Voices Heard at Roundtables
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel