U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today spoke from the Senate floor to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s small businesses, and to thank American entrepreneurs for all they do to keep our nation’s economy growing. Click here to watch his floor speech, or continue below to read his remarks.

Risch’s remarks as delivered (approximate) are below:

“I rise today to honor America’s small business owners and the impact they have on our economy and our communities, and the vital role small businesses play in our country.

“America’s small businesses are truly the engine that keeps our economy running, creating two of every three jobs in this country. Our committee knows that Congress has a responsibility to help this engine roar by getting the government out of the way of our nation’s small businesses and thus providing small businesses the opportunity to do what they have done to make this the greatest country in the world over the last two hundred and forty years.

“All of us here in Washington know that small businesses are vital to our economy, employing nearly half the American workforce and making up ninety-nine point seven percent of all employers in this country. It is because small businesses are so important to our economy that Washington needs to do all we can for businesses to start, more importantly to survive, and to grow. We have seen a steady and well-documented decline in startups and a persistently low GDP over the past decade.

“Despite this, small business optimism has hit record high levels in recent months. Small business owners are more confident than ever. National Small Business Week is a fitting time to not only celebrate our nation’s small businesses, but also to assure them that greater relief is coming.

“Congress and the new Administration are working hand-in-hand to undo the regulatory burden that has been hampering small business growth. It’s no secret that the excessive regulatory burden that our nation’s entrepreneurs face places them at a disadvantage. We hear this every day from our position on the committee. When asked what the biggest challenge is they face, it is almost always regulatory burden. America’s small business owners want to comply with a reasonable regulatory structure, however the time and money they spend complying with layers of regulations from myriad agencies hampers their ability to focus on what truly matters: and that of course is running their business. My Senate colleagues and I will continue to work with the Administration on rolling back regulations that don’t make sense, while taking a closer look at other issues facing the diverse small business community. 

“Just last week Senator Shaheen and I held a hearing on the many challenges that exist for rural entrepreneurs. As it turns out, these challenges are not much different than those that exist for entrepreneurs in more populous areas, except the challenges are amplified for business owners who operate without broadband internet or a traditional storefront on Main Street. The shared challenges among most entrepreneurs, such as access to capital, trade opportunities, and cybersecurity threats, among others, are at the forefront of the minds of those of us in Congress who are committed to delivering the relief that small business owners have been waiting for.

“Despite these challenges, America’s twenty-eight million small business owners and their employees set out every day to pursue their dreams and contribute to their communities. Their entrepreneurial spirit is nothing short of inspiring. 

“I want to tell an inspiring story about the spirit that small businesses bring to us. This is the story of a small family business in Idaho Falls, Fin Fun, that began when its founder, Karen Browning, was asked to make a mermaid tail costume for her granddaughter. This simple request was the catalyst of a much larger operation that has experienced three-thousand percent growth over a three year period, now employing seventy-five full and part-time employees in Eastern Idaho. The Browning family contributes greatly to their community and makes all of us in Idaho proud with their continued success, having been named by the SBA as Idaho’s Small Business of the Year for 2017.

“Stories like Fin Fun underscore the optimism that can be found in all corners of our country, as small business owners everywhere take the large leap into their American Dream.  I ask all senators to join me this week in supporting and thanking the small businesses in our home states, all across America. Support them with your business, and also by considering what can be done here in Congress on their behalf.

“Senator Shaheen and I as part of the jurisdiction of our committee have the oversight responsibility of the SBA. I have been very impressed over the years as to the focus of the SBA on small business. One of the things I think Senator Shaheen shares with me is supporting an increase in the Office of Advocacy. We all know the federal government passes regulations at a stunning rate, which most people really don’t completely understand. The job of the Office of Advocacy is to act as an independent voice for small businesses. When the federal government actually proposes a regulation, the Office of Advocacy is supposed to stand up and say, "Wait a minute, let me tell you how this is going to affect small businesses." We all know when the federal government and any one of the agencies enacts a regulation, it does affect businesses of different sizes differently. If it’s a large business, they generally have an army of lawyers and compliance officers and accountants who can deal with the regulations relatively easily and absorb the costs. On the other hand, if it’s a one, two, or three person business, just filling out the forms that the agencies require can sometimes be a burden. It’s important that this Office of Advocacy in the SBA be encouraged, expanded where possible, and be a real true independent voice for small business in America. I know Senator Shaheen shares my enthusiasm for continuing to support that enterprise within the SBA.

“I am always happy to work with any one of my colleagues to make it easier for Americans to start and grow a business. Happy National Small Business Week and thank you to our nation’s entrepreneurs and small business owners, who are the real backbone of our nation and our economy.”

Video of the full floor speech can be found  here or downloaded via  FTP link.