El Paso Small Businesses Call for Simplicity and Fairness From Government

By: Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate

“Tax laws across the U.S. unfairly favor large online retailers over small businesses.” That’s the view of one of the small business owners who attended the Office of Advocacy’s Small Business Forum that took place on June 12, 2018 at the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The small business owner added that her firm’s challenges are compounded by federal agencies, such as the Veterans Administration, using large out-of-state printers and office supply companies instead of her shop for printing.

There were many other comments on an array of regulatory issues, but the message was consistent: Government must strive to be fair and “keep it simple.”

A certified court interpreter expressed frustration that government websites are difficult to navigate. Another attendee thought that out of pocket expenses required to obtain a 7(a) SBA loan should be minimized. Additionally, a Chamber official shared her concern that healthcare costs have increased on virtually everyone under federal law and regulations imposed in recent years.

A number of firms holding or seeking contracts with federal departments and agencies also raised concerns. Two said that getting paid in a timely fashion by federal agencies is a common problem.

Another business owner said that her company has trouble getting access to federal contracts because many are bundled, making it difficult for her small firm to bid. She said that she also must obtain a security clearance, which is very expensive. Another owner said that much of the information required in requests for proposals (RFP) are geared to large businesses, and that his firm cannot respond. He believes that language in RFPs should not scare away small firms. A gentleman added that some firms are forced out of business because of late payments by the federal government. He advocated creating a reserve of some sort or compelling the government to make timely payments.

A roofing contractor complained that the Army Corps of Engineers recently hired an unqualified roofing firm.

The owner of a company that is an 8(a) contractor and disabled veteran-owned firm raised the topic of the Veterans Administration’s “vets-first” policy, and sought assurances that the policy is being followed.

The forum was led by Mitch Tyner, Advocacy’s Former Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, and Region 6 Advocate Rhett Davis.

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