When asked what “business” looks like, many people respond with descriptions of huge conglomerations, global enterprises and jet-setting executives. While these big corporations certainly do exist, the heart and soul of Ohio’s economy lies in our expansive network of small businesses. From manufacturing firms to family-owned restaurants, our local companies and stores employ close to half of all Ohioans and are a major source of job creation. The true foundation of economic strength in Ohio has always come from Main Street.

With so much riding on the success of our small businesses, it is only logical that Ohio’s government would do all that it could to create an environment conducive to their sustainability. At the start of this new General Assembly in January, the Ohio House pinpointed many ways in which we could encourage business development and boost job growth. There is no reason why state law should create adversity for small businesses or ignore their unique needs. In order to aid our small industries and local shops, the House Republicans have dedicated the past six months to promoting pro-business legislation.

Most recently, we passed the new state operating budget, containing several measures that benefit small businesses. One such provision establishes InvestOhio, an investment program that allows Ohio citizens who make a two-year investment in a local enterprise to receive a tax credit of 10 percent. This program will continue to encourage investment within the state, spurring business expansion and allowing for companies to create even more jobs.

The budget also eliminates Ohio’s estate tax, an unnecessary levy that hurts small business owners and farmers. This double-tax can strip a family-owned business of nearly half their assets if they should have to pay it. Prospective entrepreneurs think twice about setting up operations in a death tax state, and the added burden drives many citizens to relocate elsewhere. Now that Ohio has removed this tax impediment, our companies can flourish and our state can attract new industry.

In addition to brightening the business climate, the House has also passed legislation to scrutinize state agency rules regulating small businesses. Senate Bill 2 forms the Common Sense Initiative Office, an entity to ensure that state procedures do not impair the successful functioning of local enterprises. S.B. 2 instates a new rule review process to reform any regulations that do produce negative effects.

Instead of making more obstacles for small businesses, state government should foster their economic advancement. My colleagues and I had this objective in mind when we passed House Bill 1 in January. This legislation forms JobsOhio, a not-for-profit private entity dedicated to business development and job creation. JobsOhio will deliver a fresh perspective on these challenges, viewing our current problems from a private-sector vantage point. The end result will be an entity highly responsive to the needs of business, ultimately making Ohio more competitive in today’s fast-paced world.

With all of this pro-business legislation under our belt, Ohio’s entrepreneurs have the potential to be more successful than ever. However, the work of the state legislature is far from over. There are many more ways in which we can create a positive economic atmosphere and foster prosperity in our small businesses. I am confident that, with the right legislation, we can ensure a stronger state economy, now and in the future.


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