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ByOffice of Advocacy

Georgia gets Grubby at Area Roundtable Discussion

By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

Small business owners grilled federal barriers to small business growth during a roundtable hosted by Samuel T. Jackson, entrepreneur and owner of multiple Grub Burger locations in the state of Georgia. This roundtable was part of the overall outreach efforts that Advocacy has been initiating for almost a year. In attendance were multiple small business entrepreneurs who operate in the greater Atlanta area.

Aside from his work in the restaurant industry, Jackson works as a consultant assisting people who are trying to start businesses of their own. He cited access to financing as a major roadblock in many instances, and stressed that the process is badly in need of streamlining. Jackson mentioned that there should be a more concerted effort between the borrower, the bank, and SBA. Advocacy has a close working relationship with the SBA on the issue of access to capital for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, and is working with them to further streamline that process.

James Boyd, a consultant in the restaurant business, brought up the possibility of Congress passing a $15-per-hour minimum wage, or a comparable one, and how such legislation would eventually put him out of business. He stressed that people need to understand that wages and any wage increases need to be based on experience and performance. Food industry jobs are, for the most part, he said, entry-level jobs and are not meant to be career positions, but rather stepping stones for new entrants into the workforce to grow professionally. Advocacy regularly works with Congress on behalf of small businesses in order to curb any legislation that would negatively impact the small business community.

 

Advocacy was in Atlanta for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on April 10-11th.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Nick Ivory is the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager. Ivory can be reached at nicholas.ivory@sba.gov.

 

Related:

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ByOffice of Advocacy

Need Health Care? Try Craig’s List

Christine Myers, Region 2 Small Business Advocate

Christine Myers, Region 2 Small Business Advocate, mingles with health service professionals from the state of New Jersey  who struggle to fill gaps in labor and comply with regulations.

 

By Christine Myers, Region 2 Small Business Advocate

Recently, more than 30 health services professionals from all over the state of New Jersey gathered to share their experiences, their stories and their frustration with government relations. And they came prepared. The conversation began with CMS 277F700 43.5 Quality of Care – Bed Rails. Beds equipped with bed rails have been standard practice in nursing homes for decades.  They are used to ensure patients do not fall out of bed and hurt themselves.  However with the implementation of that very long ruling in 2017, bed rails went from good to bad, from protecting patients to a form of restraint. Nursing homes were given 8-12 weeks to conform. This was just the beginning…

Every single participant complained about the shortage of qualified nurses, CNAs and aids. “There is a chronic workforce crisis which is impacting the overall quality of care.” The qualified nurses are retiring and they can’t be replaced by just anyone.  The regulations governing nursing homes and healthcare require a sophisticated knowledge of topics including infectious diseases.  “We are losing people who would rather work for the GAP,” stated an attendee. One home health agency relied on attracting qualified nurses from the Philippines, while another relied on workers from Ghana – now the immigration process is too challenging. Unfortunately, getting workers in the U.S. is getting harder by the day and will get even more difficult if the minimum wage goes up.  “An increase in minimum wage will kill the home health business,” stated one attendee.

Home health companies face additional hurdles. They offer live-in or overnight aids, which used to be paid a per diem rate. Now, they must pay their employees by the hour, and after 40 hours of work, they must be paid overtime. This means that after two or three days, they get time and a half.  This drives up the cost of these in-home aids to be unaffordable to virtually everyone. One owner of a home health business said seniors and their family are going to Craig’slist.org to get a home health aid. It is amazing to think that, we are now relying on the same internet marketplace to hire care for our loved ones as we do to search for used furniture.

If a shortage of workers and nurses isn’t enough, add in the training, certification, and regulations and it seems almost impossible to obtain and retain good people. First, future employees must go through training, and in the state of New Jersey, as opposed to other states, there is no on-the-job training, which means they have to be able to afford not to work for this time. But even when they pass their tests, it takes one to three months for the certification, and an agency is not allowed to hire them until their certification is posted on the Board of Nurses. “During this time many of them leave, because they can’t afford to be out of work that long,” said one home health provider. And we are back to the GAP.

“We want some common sense” applied to CMS stated one healthcare consultant with decades of professional experience. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) came under a lot of fire during this session.

“It takes years for CMS to come up with long-term regulations, but they only give us eight to 12 weeks to comply,” complained the director of another assisted living agency. In addition CMS regulations require additional reporting, monthly audits and a new payment system all of which burden the already overworked staff.

CMS has a 5-star rating system for quality of care and surveys are calculated into the rating. However, everyone in the room who is affected by these ratings feels they are unfair:  The calculations are baked in and it is not a fair ranking.  One “tag” can mean you lose your preferred provider status, and it is very hard to appeal this process. Meanwhile, loss of your status is serious business when it comes to retaining the confidence of the community you serve. Just as frustrating for the people we met with is the fact that some of the surveyors do not have sufficient medical experience, yet they overstep their bounds and can override the protocol of a doctor or psychiatrist to dispense medication.

The lack of communication between CMS and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovations can cause even more headaches for the staff and impact the care of the patients.

After two hours of very robust and rapid conversation we hadn’t even touched on National Labor Relations Board or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which also regulate the nursing home and home health industries.

Healthcare is serious business, and serving the needs of our most vulnerable is challenging, at times exhausting, and often rewarding.  How do we tip the scales so that regulations don’t’ make it so challenging, exhausting and expensive that the workers prefer to work an easier job at the GAP and family’s don’t have to search on Craig’s list for caregivers to care for our parents and grandparents?

Christine Myers is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate representing New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our Regional Advocates in the 10 SBA regions stand ready to hear from you about small business concerns and to help you level the playing field for small businesses in your state.

 

Assistant Chief Counsels Linwood Rayford and Janis Reyes also attended the meeting with Myers and returned to Washington with their laundry list in which to follow up.

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Plant Spins Regulatory Concerns Round and Round with Advocacy

By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

On March 22, Michael McManus, Zvi Rosen, and Rosalyn Steward from the Office of Advocacy visited Gold Rush Vinyl, a brand-new pressing plant for vinyl records in Austin, Texas. The visit was facilitated by the Texas Music Office, and Marc Fort and several others from the Texas Music Office were on hand, as well.

Gold Rush Vinyl is owned by its founder, Caren Kelleher, whose CV includes working for Google, managing bands, and a Harvard MBA. She was inspired to found the company after being unable to get copies of LPs for bands she managed in time for shows, and realizing that there was a market niche for a record company to do smaller LP orders on a quick turnaround, using new technology instead of the clunkier record presses of yore. Kelleher worked with the SBA and used SBA loans to finance the creation of her dream business – Gold Rush Vinyl.

Kelleher’s previous experience with Google handling music licensing is critical for Gold Rush, which allows it to navigate the rules regarding music licensing and copyright law for a wholesale record press. The computerized record presses are purchased from Canada, and their software is governed by international copyright and trade secret laws. In addition, Gold Rush faces all the usual regulatory concerns of a small business in manufacturing, including worker safety rules, even as the computerized machines make the process than it has ever been before.

Despite any regulatory concerns Kelleher and her associates have, her business is filling a void for nostalgic music fans as well as letting a new generation appreciate the sound of a record. Lots of audiophiles say that when it comes to sound quality, nothing beats vinyl. Kelleher told the Austin American-Statesman that her company is going to focus on smaller orders for independent artists.

By the mid-2000’s, vinyl records were at a low, and the music business was weathering the crisis of Napster and file sharing more generally. However, a bright light would begin to appear for the business – people began buying vinyl records again, after the format had been left for dead over a decade earlier. At first existing used stocks were sufficient, but people wanted to hear more than just old recordings on their new record players, and new vinyl pressings were needed. 2017 marked a 12th straight year of growth in vinyl record sales, and the sky seems to be the limit. At first these pressing plants used vinyl presses which had been mothballed decades earlier, and increasingly entrepreneurs went looking for used vinyl presses, paying higher and higher prices for it. However, such machinery inevitably was not made for the digital era, and lacked efficiencies that a vinyl press designed from the ground up today would have. A Canadian company began designing such a computerized vinyl press, and Gold Rush is using two of their machines to press records, allowing them to press different records much more efficiently and with lower costs than they would have using secondhand older presses.

However, the first parts of making a record haven’t changed in decades – you start with vinyl. The vinyl is shaped from pellets into a “donut” and a label is prepared. Different colors can also be added to give the vinyl a different look – a solid color, swirls, or other patterns. The label is placed atop the vinyl, which is pressed, quickly heated, and just as quickly cooled, settling into its finished shape.  The shape is created by electroplating a “master” with the negative image of the record, and then a having that electroplated master pressed into the vinyl. Gold Rush does not create these electroplated masters in house, due to the complexity of the chemical procedure as well as environmental regulations concerning waste from electroplating, and instead use an outside contractor.

The key parts of making a record are actually steam (to heat the vinyl so it forms completely) and cold water (to quickly re-cool the vinyl so it takes the exactly shape needed). Accordingly, Gold  Rush Vinyl relies on a complicated series of processes to automate provision of steam and cold water, using proprietary processes that are kept secret. The computerized presses only require one operator, everything else is handled by robotic arms and the device’s software.

It is that kind of precision and care that may help Kelleher’s company strike that Gold record from her 8,400-square-foot warehouse in the live music capital of the world.

Advocacy was in San Antonio and Houston, Texas for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 19-20.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Zvi Rosen is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes intellectual property. Rosen can be reached at zvi.rosen@sba.gov.

 

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ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations

By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

A fourth-generation, family-owned business proves that car manufacturing in the greater Detroit area is not entirely running on empty.

Advocacy staff visited E&E Manufacturing Co., Inc. in Plymouth, Mich., which designs and manufactures structural and chassis component assemblies, seating components, hood panels, rear tail light panels, and many other component parts for wheeled vehicles in the automotive, military, commercial, and industrial markets. Some of their major customers include BMW, GM, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Lear Corporation, Fisher Dynamics, and Oshkosh Defense.

A true fourth generation family-owned business, E&E was founded in 1962 in a 5,000-square-foot building by the grandfather of current E&E President Wallace (Wes) Smith, who eventually handed the helm over to Wes’s father. The company, which has now grown into a large campus with metal stamping presses that weigh up to 300 tons, and has expanded into Tennessee, is now being run by Wes himself. We sat down with him, his daughter and Chief Cultural Officer Jeanne Swanson, his son-in-law (and Jeanne’s husband) Chief Financial Officer Brian Swanson, and Wes’s other son-in-law Chief Growth Officer Matthew Menchinger, to learn about federal regulatory issues and trade issues affecting their small business.

Regarding regulatory issues that they face as a company, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance process was described by company President Wes Smith as being too punitive rather than more assistive, which is a concern that Advocacy has heard from many small businesses as we have traveled the country holding Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. Additionally, he touched on the agency unnecessarily halting production for extended periods of time with little to no notice while they conduct inspections, noting that in one instance they had to stop working for roughly two weeks. However, despite the obstacles and hurdles, E&E excels in safety compliance, and even received the MIOSHA Star Award for their employee safety program.

When the conversation reached the topic of the effects of the Affordable Care Act, Smith described the law as a nightmare for the average small business as he highlighted the out-of-control health care costs, which the company is inevitably forced to pass on to their employees. Unlike some small businesses, E&E is in a position not to have to pass on as much of the cost to their employees and this helps them stay competitive in the labor market. The increased cost of health care as a result of ACA is a regular concern for small businesses across all industries, and Advocacy has been working to address the issue by working with federal agencies and members of congress to encourage them to lessen the burden.

Trade policy is another area of concern for E&E. Because there is so much uncertainty in regards to NAFTA, the company is getting substantial pressure from some of their customers to start producing in Mexico, which Smith does not want to do. He emphasized that once there is certainty on U.S. trade policy within North America, E&E will be on a better footing to assess the effects of any changes and plan accordingly. (In light of President Donald J. Trump’s plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Advocacy has been conducting outreach across the country to hear from small businesses affected by international trade policy with Canada and Mexico.)

An interesting and significant hurdle expressed by CCO Jeanne Swanson is the skills gap affecting their industry, and how young people graduating from high school don’t even consider manufacturing as a career because they have a general assumption of the industry as assembly line based and labor intensive. She described a recent, on-site visit from a group of students from a high school STEM program and how stunned the kids were about how much of the manufacturing process is now computer based, and they were surprised to learn that they can make a six figure salary in this field. E&E has an apprenticeship program within the company, but they still can’t get enough young people entering the job market who are interested in honing these skills and embarking on this type of career path. Swanson emphasized that if more high school students become exposed to these types of skilled trade programs in the manufacturing industry as they near end of their high school years, it would provide more options for those individuals looking for a great career with which they can support a family that doesn’t involve getting a college degree, as well as satisfy the automobile manufacturing industry’s demand for these workers.

 

Advocacy was in Detroit for a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meeting on March 13.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Nick Ivory is the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager. Ivory can be reached at nicholas.ivory@sba.gov.

Related:

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By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
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Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry 
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations 
By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

 

ByOffice of Advocacy

The Golden State Shines a Light on Regulatory Issues: “We are So Overregulated!”

Group at California roundtable

Advocacy held a series of roundtable events and conducted 10 site visits in California during the week of April 30th. Congressman Jeffrey John Denham (R-Calif.) attended one of them.

 

By Jason Doré, Assistant Chief Counsel for External Affairs/Director of the Office of Information

California small businesses must overcome a heavy load of often onerous and complex regulatory obstacles at the state and federal level in order to survive and thrive. This is what small business owners told Advocacy as the office conducted regulatory reform roundtables in Modesto, Sacramento and Santa Clarita and visited 10 small businesses throughout the state.

“It’s becoming very, very difficult to do business in the state of California,” one small business owner told Advocacy in Santa Clarita. “Regulations are really affecting our business every single day.”

While small business owners had numerous gripes about federal regulations, concerns with state and local regulations dominated the discussions.

“If we don’t start turning around this avalanche of regulations, businesses will continue to leave,” one frustrated small business owner told Advocacy in Sacramento.

California regulations impacting the hiring and employment process raised particular concerns: “You have no rights as an employer in California when you’re hiring people,” a familiar refrain we heard expressed throughout California. “You are not providing an incentive for us to create jobs. You are actually de-incentivizing us from hiring people.”

Small business owners expressed their frustration with the overall burden and reach of federal regulations in conjunction with the state and local regulations. “Why make it so hard that we can’t stay in business?,” a Modesto small business owner asked.

Californians feel the impact of new proposed rules and regulatory uncertainty at each level of government: “Every time you guys make a rule, it really has an impact,” a Sacramento small business owner exclaimed. “When California or the federal government sneezes, small business catches a cold.”

The particular regulations at issue were as diverse as the terrain and the people of the state of California: Federal permitting for development projects required by the natural historic preservation act, the IRS 1099 C requirement for car dealers, predatory lawsuits under the Americans with Disability Act, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s credit reporting penalties, Department of Transportation’s procurement rules, outdated science used by various federal agencies to implement requirements on the fishing industry, electronic logging device requirements for small truckers, and many more.

The pure number and expansive nature of the regulations on the book was a common concern.

“Ninety-nine percent of small businesses are not in compliance with something,” a California small business advocate told Advocacy.

While they are exasperated with the regulatory landscape facing California small businesses, the small businesses we visited and heard from at the roundtable meetings  were grateful to discover they have a voice in Washington, D.C., and an administration who is committed to regulatory reform.  One roundtable participant told us, “Big business is in Washington, too, working to put us out of business.”

The small business community did, however, express their disappointment that there was not a similar effort or office on the state and local level.

“We wish the two-for-one executive order would be applied at the state level,” a small business stakeholder stated in regards to President Trump’s executive order requiring two regulations to be eliminated for each one that is promulgated.

Those attending the roundtables also expressed the importance of small businesses engaging in the regulatory arena.

“If you don’t get engaged in some form, you will get crushed,” warned a California small businessman at the conclusion of our Sacramento roundtable.

Advocacy was in Modesto, Sacramento and Santa Clarita, Calif. for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable meetings April 30-May 3.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Jason Doré is the Assistant Chief Counsel for External Affairs/Director of the Office of Information. Doré can be reached at  Jason.dore@sba.gov.

 

 

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Michigan Company Shapes Constructive Criticism for NAFTA Revision

By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

On March 13, the Office of Advocacy had the opportunity to tour the facility operated by Vicount Industries in Farmington Hills, Mich. Vicount is in the business of designing and developing metal stamping dies and components, mainly for the automotive industry, which uses its dies and components to stamp metal parts for use in automobiles. The tour was led by Joe Padula, the president of Vicount, who has worked at Vicount since the 1980s.

We were given an impressive tour of Vicount’s facility, seeing numerous pieces of equipment including a giant, 2,000-ton press, as well as seeing examples of their handiwork, including parts for various cars and trucks.  We also learned more about the progressive die stamping process that Vicount and other companies in its sector use to press parts. The process involves each section of a sheet of metal going through a series of adjustments in the press, and then the sheet is fed forward and the next pressing is completed. By the time the relevant piece of the metal sheet reaches the end of the press, it is a complete part.

While on the tour, Advocacy staff had a chance to discuss changes in the industry since NAFTA went into effect, as well as hearing a common complaint in the manufacturing sector – the shortage of qualified personnel for skilled manufacturing positions. NAFTA served to change the position of Vicount and other small businesses that made dies for stamping – instead of automakers doing stamping themselves, many either spun off or closed their stamping divisions, and new “first tier” contractors came to do most of the stamping work. The bulk of this work is now done in Mexico, so the stamping die will be manufactured in the United States and then Vicount or another company in the sector will send the dies to Mexico for use in its stamping facilities. Vicount has learned not to send its employees along with the dies, but rather to wait until the dies manage to clear customs, which they say can be a disappointingly lengthy process. Padula urged that a revised NAFTA include provisions for frictionless export of industrial parts from the United States to Mexico, so their employees would not need to wait for customs to clear the dies in order to more quickly complete their contractual obligations and see car parts coming from the stamping dies that Vicount makes.

 

Advocacy was in Detroit for a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meeting on March 13.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Zvi Rosen is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes intellectual property. Rosen can be reached at zvi.rosen@sba.gov.

 

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ByOffice of Advocacy

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations

By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

President Donald J. Trump made modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a priority of his administration. As a result, the Office of Advocacy is conducting NAFTA Modernization Roundtables across the country to engage small business owners, trade associations and local government entities.

The Office of Advocacy is conducting these NAFTA Modernization Roundtables to implement the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) passed by Congress in 2016. The TFTEA directs the Office of Advocacy to gather and report to Congress the views of small business of a possible renegotiated NAFTA agreement.

One of the locations chosen for these roundtables by the Office of Advocacy was Milwaukee. While in the state, the NAFTA team secured a site visit to a dairy farm and cheese factory.

The first farm visit for the team was the Crave Brothers Farm in the town of Waterloo. The Crave Brothers started this farm in 1980 milking just 57 cows. Today, they milk 1,500 cows and till 1,700 acres for crops. All of the milk that they produce on their farm is used in the cheese factory; additionally they purchase milk from a neighbor’s 800-cow farm. They also maintain a manure digester that produces enough electricity to supply their farm, the cheese factory and 300 neighboring homes.

Across the road from the dairy farm sits the award-winning Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Factory. Their cheeses come in many different forms: Mozzarella Cheese Rope, fresh Mozzarella Cheese and Mascarpone. Their cheese is sold in local grocery stores as well as nationwide chains such as Whole Foods.

One of the brothers’ concerns with re-negotiations of NAFTA is losing the open market with Mexico that many Wisconsin dairies have at this time. According to Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy, Trade and NAFTA Office in Washington DC, Mexico is Wisconsin’s second largest export market. That is an increase up from seventh in 1993. Wisconsin farmers exported to Mexico $176 million of soybeans in 2017. Wisconsin also leads the nation in the export of bovine semen, prepared/preserved cranberries and sweet corn according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The Crave brothers were also concerned about restrictions with the Canadian market. They would like to expand into the Canadian dairy market; however, Canada has a central pricing sector due to this particular industry being excluded from the original NAFTA negotiations in the early 1990’s. The dairy prices have since been set by the Canadian Dairy Commission. Unfortunately, this tightens the market for U.S. dairy products for Canadian consumers, thus not allowing the Crave brothers and other American farmers to market their products in Canada as a viable competitor.

The second farm visit the team made was with Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC, located in Watertown. Also attending this meeting were representatives from the Wisconsin Pork Association, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and Edge (a Dairy Cooperative). Rosy-Lane has been owned and operated since 1965 by Lloyd and Daphne Holterman. Together, the pair milks 870 cows and tills 1,755 acres of crops. Rosy-Lane also exports and imports bio-science products with Canadian partners and is concerned that NAFTA renegotiations could disrupt this agreement. Mr. Holterman has recently visited Canada and feels that Canada is getting the best of the NAFTA agreement. His concern is with the central milk pricing that Canada implements. He feels that Wisconsin farmers are at a disadvantage to the highly subsidized milk industry in Canada. These concerns were also discussed by representatives from the Farm Bureau and the Dairy Cooperative when we met with them.

The representative from the Wisconsin Pork Association was also concerned that renegotiations could change the favorable agreements that they have with Canada and Mexico. Just as other industries in the NAFTA agreement, the Agra business has mixed feelings on modernization of NAFTA. Some feel it is working just fine and others feel it can be improved. We understand the importance of these issues and are working to gather and compile all of the relevant data from the nation-wide roundtables and will be forwarding this compiled data to Congress as mandated. We appreciate all of the input from the Wisconsin businesses and look forward to helping improve the business climate.

 

Advocacy was in Wisconsin for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 15-16.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Joe Knilans is the Rural Affairs Advocate. He can be reached at joseph.knilans@sba.gov.

 

Related:

“Regulations are unfair and deceptive!” Michigan & Wisconsin Small Business Owners Describe their Regulatory Burdens to Advocacy
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Detroit Small Business Owners Want the Feds to be Less of a Speed Bump
By Brian Headd, Research Economist

Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry 
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Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Site Visit: Michigan Company Shapes Constructive Criticism for NAFTA Revision
By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

ByOffice of Advocacy

Sometimes the Little Things can Morph into Big Problems

 Recently, I met with representatives from 12 different trade unions to discuss how federal regulations were impacting their own businesses and other businesses in their respective unions.

Regional Advocate Christine Myers met with representatives from 12 different trade unions to discuss how federal regulations were impacting their own businesses and other businesses in their respective unions.

 

By Christine Myers, Region 2 Advocate

Oftentimes, people associate labor unions with big business, significant PACs, and tremendous governmental influence. But most trade unions are comprised of workers employed by small businesses, with local customers, and real concerns about the regulatory realities on their business. Recently, I met with representatives from 12 different trade unions to discuss how federal regulations were impacting their  own businesses and other businesses in their respective unions.  The roofers, pipe fitters, laborers, carpenters, plumbers, operating engineers and electrical workers each had their own story and opinions about how regulations affected their ability to get the job done.

When I opened the floor for discussion, one gentleman immediately groaned: “the Indiana Bat.”

“The Indiana bat?” I responded.

“But we live in New Jersey,” said another attendee.

“Exactly!” said the business owner.

He went on to explain that because this was an endangered species, this tiny, two-inch bat could halt construction for more than six months. Although the bat is indigenous to the Midwest, they do reside in the Northeast. If there is evidence of a bat within 10 miles of a construction site, certain trees cannot be cut down between April 1 and Nov. 15.   November to March are the coldest months in New Jersey, and we typically get 3 feet of snow. Hard, cold ground covered with snow make digging a foundation extremely challenging. “It costs me thousands and thousands of dollars, and sometimes, it costs me the entire project,” the gentleman stated.

One turtle can really slow a project down, or even derail an entire project. Take, for example, another endangered animal, the Bog Turtle. “We don’t see any turtles until it’s time to start digging, it seems, and suddenly the Sierra Club shows up and finds a turtle,” one man told me. Saving endangered wildlife is clearly a priority, but it may cause the extension of a small business with insufficient resources to absorb 6-9 month project delays. There has to be a way to compromise.

L-1 workers are another area of concern.  L-1 workers are guest workers allowed to be employed for specialty work that cannot be done with local resources. Typically this regulation is helpful to U.S.-based companies, as it gives them flexibility they need to hire the right resource.  However, in this case, the gentleman explained that L-1 workers from Canada can be much less expensive than American workers, so companies blur the truth a bit to get approval to use foreign labor. In this case, the equipment was unique, but it didn’t require any special skill to use the equipment.  This company was able to bring in Canadian resources, pay them much less (even if they housed them) and create an unfair advantage for their company.  Fortunately, the issue was escalated to a U.S. senator who took corrective action.

Many of the attendees expressed concern over the lack of consistent inspections by the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on companies known to employ non-certified and/or unauthorized workers. “We know it’s happening, and everyone knows who employs unauthorized workers, but the regulations are not being enforced on the “big guys,” one attendee told stated.

A few attendees explained that small shops that employ authorized employees, performing tasks in which they have been certified often lose jobs to companies who don’t adhere to the regulations. One attendee said that it is not difficult for unauthorized workers to obtain false identification.

“It isn’t just about the money,” said another gentleman. All of those who attended felt that bad work ended up costing more money, and unsafe work could result in injury or someone’s life.

The participants agreed that some regulations are good, in fact essential, but if not consistently enforced, they are just as bad as having no regulations. They went on to say that other regulations are too over reaching and cause more problems than the problems they were designed to avoid. For all these reasons, small businesses need to have a voice in the regulatory process. Small Businesses are on the front lines where regulations meet real life.  Although none of the attendees had heard of the Office of Advocacy, they left the meeting energized that now they can have a say in the never heard of the Office of Advocacy, regulatory process that affects their business and their livelihood.

For more information on the issues discussed in this blog, please see the following websites:

https://www.fws.gov/northeast/njfieldoffice/endangered/ibat.html

https://www.fws.gov/northeast/njfieldoffice/endangered/bogturtle.html

https://www.immihelp.com/l1-visa/l1-visa-h1b-visa-comparison.html

Christine Myers is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate representing New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our Regional Advocates in the 10 SBA regions stand ready to hear from you about small business concerns and to help you level the playing field for small businesses in your state.

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry

Wigwam Socks

Advocacy staff visited Wigwam Mills in Wisconsin during a recent Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable.

By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy toured the Sheboygan, Wisconsin, headquarters of Wigwam Mills last week, a small business that knits 20,000 pairs of socks a day from more than 200 machines in its 200,000-square-foot facility. Since 1905, Wigwam has thrived amid the unraveling apparel industry in the U.S., expanding their line of woolen socks to include socks for athletics, outdoors and workwear.

Advocacy is hosting Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country and visiting small businesses in an effort to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them.

The need to develop a skilled workforce is a common thread that Advocacy has heard from small businesses across the country.

Advocacy spoke to Wigwam Mills Chairman of the Board and CEO Robert Cheseboro, Jr., a third-generation owner who expressed pride with the quality of his products and the fact that this company is still manufacturing products in the United States.     Cheseboro stated that many textile and apparel factories have closed and moved their operations to Mexico, due to the price and the scarcity of an available skilled labor force in the United States. Cheseboro stated it takes three years to train someone on their automated knitting machines and these operators can make $21-$22 per hour.  They also have hourly positions that make $13-$14 per hour.

Cheseboro stated that Wigwam’s main regulatory concern is a stable international trade policy. This company is most concerned with the current renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as 70 percent of their socks are exported to the cold-weather country of Canada. The current negotiation has continued for more than 9 months, and the uncertainty is affecting their bottom line. They need a resolution to this agreement, to know what the rules are and estimate the prices of their products to their Canadians suppliers. If they do not have this finality, their suppliers may go to businesses in other countries, Cheseboro told us.

Wigwam is also struggling to comply with NAFTA rules regarding the origin of their products, as they require that the yarn be purchased in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico or be accessed a high tariff. This company prides itself with making its product in the United States; however, there is a declining domestic wool supply. They are seeking a waiver in this requirement if domestic supplies are unavailable.  Advocacy staff told Wigwam that we value this input, as our office is now required to report to Congress on small business views on NAFTA modernization and their dealings with international trade to Canada and Mexico.

Advocacy staffers were awed by the automation adopted throughout the Wigwam headquarters, from the rows of machines that can stitch an intricate sock in minutes to other machines that packaged the socks. We met many of the friendly quality control workers that attach those famous stickers, and toured their old fashioned breakroom complete with a wreath of socks. The tour of the Wigwam headquarters ended of course with a giant pile of missing and defective socks; the company donates 80,000 pairs of these imperfect pairs to homeless organizations in the area. We learned everything about socks and the concerns of apparel manufacturers at our day at Wigwam, a small business that has been knit into the fabric of Wisconsin for a century.


Advocacy was in Wisconsin for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 15-16.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Janis Reyes is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes labor and immigration. She can be reached at janis.reyes@sba.gov.

 

Related:

“Regulations are unfair and deceptive!” Michigan & Wisconsin Small Business Owners Describe their Regulatory Burdens to Advocacy
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Detroit Small Business Owners Want the Feds to be Less of a Speed Bump
By Brian Headd, Research Economist

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations
By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Site Visit: Michigan Company Shapes Constructive Criticism for NAFTA Revision
By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

ByOffice of Advocacy

Join us in California for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables

The SBA Office of Advocacy is an independent office that serves as a voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the source of small business statistics. Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers.

President Donald J. Trump has made regulatory reform a centerpiece of his agenda and has signed two executive orders addressing the regulatory burden faced by the private sector. Advocacy has a unique and important role to aid agency implementation of the executive orders. To assist in accomplishing the goals of the executive orders, the office has developed a Regulatory Reform Action Plan.

As part of this plan, Advocacy is hosting Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country in an effort to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them the most. This is an opportunity for small business owners and stakeholders to meet in-person with Advocacy senior staff. The next set of roundtables will be in California the week of April 30. These roundtables are free and open to the public.

Please join us in California April 30-May 3:

Modesto, CA – Monday, April 30, DoubleTree Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street, Modesto, CA 95354.

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-modesto-ca-tickets-45246053163

Sacramento, CA – Wednesday, May 2, SAFE Credit Union – Corporate Headquarters , 2295 Iron Point Rd #100, Folsom, CA 95630.

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-sacramento-ca-tickets-45209244066

Santa Clarita, CA – Thursday, May 3, Small Business Development Center, College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell  Canyon Road, University Center, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-santa-clarita-ca-tickets-45243391201

In order for this regulatory reform effort to be successful, we need small business participation.
This will be an opportunity for small business leaders to educate Advocacy and federal agencies through firsthand accounts of how they are impacted by federal regulations. The information gathered at these roundtables will be utilized to inform agencies, congress and the public on what specific regulations can be modified or removed to help small businesses.

For more information regarding Advocacy’s efforts to help reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and upcoming roundtable events, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/advocacy/regulatory-reform.