Small Businesses Are the Heart of Our Economy

By A. Scott Anderson

President and CEO, Zions Bank

I want to tip my hat to those enterprising, industrious, courageous and optimistic men and women who have the moxie to put everything on the line and start a small business.

It’s not easy. Anyone creating a small business had better be a hard worker with the resilience to plow through many obstacles and challenges.

Despite the difficulties, success is certainly possible. Nearly 470,000 small businesses exist in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, employing more than 920,000 citizens, representing more than 50 percent of the region’s private workforce.

We applaud these innovative entrepreneurs who turn ideas into businesses, creating jobs and forming the backbone of our economy. In fact, more than 50 percent of Americans work for or own a small business. Small businesses create the majority of new jobs in our nation each year.

In Utah, for example, small businesses are actively engaging in the global marketplace, with 86 percent of all Utah exporters categorized as such. Derek Miller, World Trade Center Utah CEO, said, “Utah businesses are increasingly taking advantage of opportunities around the world. The state’s exports grew from $12.3 billion in 2014 to $13.3 billion in 2014, an 8 percent increase in just one year. That is an astounding number when you consider the slowdown in the global economy, turmoil and violence around the world, and a strong U.S. dollar.”

The number and strength of small businesses is one reason Utah’s economy is the most diverse in the country, with the largest middle class and the most potential for upward mobility. As Deseret News columnist LaVarr Webb recently wrote, “Clearly the oil and gas downturn has hurt Utah. But the nice thing about having one of the most diversified economies in the country is that when one sector is down, other sectors can keep the economy rolling.”

We should be doing all we can to encourage and help small businesses flourish. Survey research shows that taxes and government regulation are the biggest concerns of small business owners. Over-regulation has grown significantly as a major concern over the last decade.

The U.S. Small Business Association noted that, “Small businesses simply need an environment in which to grow and create jobs: economic stability; predictability, fairness and transparency in taxes and health care costs; common-sense regulations that don’t unfairly disadvantage small firms; and lawmakers willing to tackle the major issues facing our country.”

Stan Nakano, the SBA district director for Utah, said, “We all know that the people of Utah have long been identified by their enterprising and industrious nature — so much so that we have immortalized the word ‘industry’ as our state motto and the beehive as our emblem.”

Small businesses are worth celebrating. But beyond celebrating them, we must support them every day of the year so they can provide economic strength, generate the bulk of new jobs, bring innovation to market, and create wealth that makes our communities great places to live and work.