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Editorial: Pence’s business council step forward for state

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Gov. Mike Pence has launched a $3 million office to help small businesses and streamline some red tape requirements.

The agency, the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, will be overseen by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann. It will house the Small Business Development Center and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center and will provide help for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The office will be overseen by an ombudsman, who will “help to streamline state programs, licensing and permitting processes.”

The annual budget is funded through $1 million from the state and $2 million from the federal government, according to information provided by Lexie Hosier, press secretary for Ellspermann.

Small and medium-sized businesses — not big businesses — have been the drivers in job creation during the past few years, said Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and an associate professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University.

Hicks provided data that indicate Indiana businesses with more than 500 employees account for about 40 percent of job growth. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees create just as many jobs as businesses with more than 500 employees.

Kevin Brinegar, president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said while Indiana already has a good business climate, this office will place a greater emphasis on helping smaller businesses.

“We think it’s a very positive development,” Brinegar said. “It’s putting the focus where it should be.”

He said 80 percent of the Chamber’s business members have fewer than 100 employees.

Economists say the primary drivers of growth in jobs and GDP domestically have been small businesses.

In a recent letter to constituents, Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., wrote: “Americans have long celebrated small businesses as the fountainhead of American innovation and the foundation of our prosperity. ... Today, small businesses remain the lifeblood of our nation’s economy.”

Having an office dedicated to small businesses is a solid idea. The new office should enhance the competitiveness of Indiana and create economic growth, which will translate into better paying jobs for Hoosiers.

In all, Pence’s move could pay big dividends by giving gives small businesses and start-ups a better chance to succeed.

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