By RICHIE MALOUF
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) — Two U.S. senators, one Republican and one Democrat, discussed how local and federal governments can help small businesses thrive in an economy plagued by high inflation.
Goldman Sachs hosted an event Tuesday where Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., discussed how to help small business owners attract employees and ask for help from local representatives when needed.
Sen. Scott cited the 3.6% unemployment rate, but said there are more than 11 million job openings. To attract more employees, Sen. Scott said small businesses need help competing with large companies by offering comparable health benefits for their employees.
“The challenge that we have is how do we help small businesses, especially micro-businesses, five or 10 employees or less, have the ability to compete with large companies,” Sen. Scott said. “In many ways, it’s the benefit package. We need to make sure that there is available retirement benefits that you get at a larger company; you want to have the same kind of health benefits you get at a larger company.”
Sen. Scott then explained how America has put too much emphasis on a college education and that people should look to trade schools or apprenticeship programs instead.
“We have sold that the only way to succeed or to live your American dream is through having a college education – that is not true,” he said. “We should spend more time focusing on technical education and apprenticeship programs.”
Sen. Sinema agreed with Scott, saying there aren’t enough people attending technical schools.
“Just Friday, I was home in Arizona visiting a local company,” she said. “I was talking with manufacturers throughout the state, and their No. 1 concern was they can’t hire qualified folks because we don’t have enough people going to technical school and getting the technical expertise that we need.”
Sen. Sinema added that she also hopes to address the supply chain issue by focusing on producing goods in the U.S. rather than depending on foreign imports.
“What’s on top of the mind for all of us is how do we deal with inflation, and how do we deal with a coming potential recession,” Sen. Sinema said. “One of the ways to do that is to shorten our supply chain and to enable manufacturing more of what we need right here in the U.S.”
Toward the end of the event, the senators emphasized the need for small businesses to reach out to their local representatives for help.
“I would suggest … reaching out to the local office at home,” Sen. Sinema said. “Because the folks at home … they have time, five days a week, to talk with local business owners. They can tour your business, they can learn about what your challenges are, what your successes are, and they’re dying to hear from real people on the ground about what your experiences are.”
Sen. Scott finished by telling small business owners to reach out to tell their senator to host small business events to discuss issues plaguing their communities.
“Ask your local congress member or your senator to have a small business event in your community,” Sen. Scott said. “You’re so busy doing your job that you don’t have time to advocate on your behalf, but we work for you.”