Advocacy Visits Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas
By Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate
The Office of Advocacy held a small business regulatory forum on the campus of Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas on August 30. Two dozen small business leaders attended the event and shared their views on taxes, federal regulations and other topics, with an emphasis on issues affecting commerce along the Mexican border.
The owner of a local real estate firm emphasized the importance of healthcare to employees of businesses of all sizes. He said that small businesses often do not offer health insurance, and many policies provided by larger companies are too expensive or have deductibles that are high. As a result, many people cross the border to visit a physician or to obtain prescription medicines in Mexico, even if they have insurance in the U.S., because it is sometimes still less expensive.
A local pharmacist said his employees are happy with the bump in their paychecks resulting from recent federal tax reform but added that they still would like to see less money withheld each pay period. He believes the recently adopted tax cuts will be beneficial to small businesses overall but told the group that he doesn’t know how they will impact his firm since the reform is so new. He added that his small company doesn’t offer health insurance to employees, making it difficult to keep employees and compete with larger firms. He is hoping that one outcome of future changes in federal healthcare regulations will be putting small businesses on more of a level playing field with big firms when attempting to provide affordable health plans to workers.
Attendees mentioned other items of concern to their community. One business owner addressed the difficulty in starting a new firm. She said that small start-ups often don’t know what federal documents are needed in order to hire workers. A business coach said that many small firms aren’t sure if they are going to survive another year, especially with the uncertainty regarding trade with Mexico. Another said it should not be so difficult to import beer from small craft breweries from south of the border.
The owner of a gourmet dried beef business reminded the group that not all burdensome regulations or tax policy is federal. She explained how she just received a property tax bill for the equipment inside of her building, though no inspector had ever visited and that the government had no way of knowing how much to assess her firm.
The Office of Advocacy thanks the SBA San Antonio District Office and Nina Ramon for helping to organize the forum. We also thank Michael Gonzalez with the Small Business Development Center in Laredo for hosting us. We learned a lot in Laredo.
Rhett Davis serves as the Region 6 Advocate for the SBA Office of Advocacy, representing small businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Davis works with small business owners, state and local governments, and small business associations to bring the voice of Region 6 to Washington DC. He can be reached at Rhett.Davis@sba.gov.