Op-Ed: 'Shop Small' takes on a new meaning this year

By Gene Barr

Small businesses — the backbone of the American economy and the heart of many Main Street communities right here in Pennsylvania — have experienced unprecedented setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those challenges combined with workforce shortages, labor market issues and supply-chain disruptions have left small businesses struggling to survive. In fact, a whopping 90% of small businesses have reported that they are afraid that inflation will impair their economic recovery.

According to the American Express Shop Small Impact survey released this month, 56% of small businesses surveyed agree that this year’s Small Business Saturday, which was held Nov. 27, was more critical than ever and 78% say holiday sales will impact their ability to keep their doors open in 2022.

Gene Barr is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

Understanding the vital role small businesses play in our economy, the PA Chamber has been advocating for reforms to help these businesses thrive through our economic resurgence initiative, ‘Bringing PA Back.’ Pennsylvania can be a model for what economic recovery should look like. But in order to achieve that distinction, the state must first put in place a forward-thinking, long-term strategy that seeks to capitalize on the commonwealth’s growth potential.

‘Bringing PA Back’ aims to do that by improving the state’s competitiveness, infrastructure and workforce — all of which are essential to igniting Pennsylvania’s economic renaissance and creating equality of opportunity for every resident.

The PA General Assembly has recently taken action on several PA Chamber-supported bills that will help small businesses throughout the commonwealth. 

These reforms include the following.

  • Progressed small business tax reform bills that remove state tax barriers on small businesses.
  • Enactment of several pandemic-related bills designed to aid businesses during the unprecedented economic upheaval that resulted from the COVID-19 related business shutdown orders.
  • Passage of occupational licensing reform and an omnibus workforce development legislative package to help address the state’s job skills gap and workforce issues.
  • Enactment of legislation aimed at improving Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, including small cell and 5G broadband technology.
  • Repeal of harmful overtime expansion proposal.
  • Defeated attempts to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, which would have especially hurt small businesses.

It’s time to get shopping, Pennsylvania! Our small businesses need us now more than ever as we navigate the road to economic recovery.

Gene Barr is president and CEO of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, which represents businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors.