For many Americans, the days following Thanksgiving are filled with starting or finishing up Christmas gift and holiday shopping. Whether purchasing at brick and mortar stores or online, the holiday rush highlights the numerous places we can look for the perfect gifts and holiday items. Over the weekend, we were rightly reminded to shop small and shop local during this holiday season. But while Small Business Saturday prompts us to support our friends and neighbors who operate mom-and-pop retailers and restaurants, it should encourage us to regularly stop by as patrons. 

Whether as an employee or owner, Americans depend greatly on the success of small businesses, which includes industries beyond retailers and restaurants. Currently, there are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States, and an estimated two out of three new jobs in the economy are created by small businesses. In fact, more than half of Oklahoma’s workforce either owns or works for a small business. According to the most recent state findings from the Small Business Administration, Oklahoma has approximately 350,718 small businesses employing an estimated 712,582 people.

Former President George W. Bush once said, “America is successful because of the hard work and creativity and enterprise of our people.” Without fail when I travel across the Fourth District of Oklahoma, I see the truth in that observation. And as one of three founding partners of two successful small businesses that continue to operate to this day, I understand the risks and calculations that are made by would-be entrepreneurs when deciding to pursue an idea and even open at all. 

While the United States has long been recognized as the land of opportunity, it is important for current and future policies to strengthen the belief that the American dream can still be achieved. Indeed, for small businesses to be established, create jobs and remain open, the environment must encourage and allow them to thrive. At the federal policymaking level, I believe Congress should do whatever it can to lift needless regulatory and tax burdens that hinder small-business success or discourage entry into the market.

Nearly two years since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, I am proud that it continues to deliver much-needed tax relief and empower our small-business job creators and entrepreneurs. In fact, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that optimism remains strong among business owners. Similarly, Capital One’s latest Small Business Growth Index Survey found that optimism remains steady.

This year in the U.S. House of Representatives, I am proud that the Small Business Committee has worked on several bipartisan pieces of legislation to help small businesses. This includes legislation that promotes prison to proprietorship reform, allows small businesses to build their competitiveness and encourages veteran entrepreneurship. Though I do not serve on this committee, I will always vote in favor of policies that clear red tape and benefit small businesses when such legislation comes to the floor.

Whether you work for or own a small business, we should all take interest in their success and their ability to power the economy. Through their innovation and creativity, entrepreneurs create opportunities not only for themselves but for others as well. Their vision and hard work give other Americans the jobs and opportunities they need to succeed.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.

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