Portland-Area Small Business Owners Host Post-Shutdown Roundtable
Discuss effects of shutdown; look forward to upcoming federal budget fight
On Wednesday, small business owners from the greater Portland area met with staff from the offices of Representatives Pingree and Michaud to discuss the damaging effects of the shutdown of the federal government earlier this month and why further federal conflicts looming on the horizon must be avoided.
Small business owners discussed the upcoming federal budget debate and the importance of tax fairness, specifically making sure large corporations join Maine small businesses in finally paying their fair share.
"The shutdown hit us pretty hard. We basically had to put everything on hold because Congress couldn't come to an agreement," said Heather Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing Company, whose products are subject to federal approval that never arrived due to the shutdown. "I'm very happy to have the opportunity to discuss how important it is for small businesses like mine that we don't go through this ordeal again in three months."
Maine was one of a handful of states considered the hardest hit by the government shutdown, due in large part to the high number of senior citizens, veterans and small businesses that rely on federally-administered programs.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 97% of Maine's employers are classified as small businesses. Of those, 80% have 8 or fewer employees. Many use the SBA lending program to gain access to government backed, flexible loans to start or grow their business.
"As someone who just recently went through the ups and downs of opening a business, I can only imagine what it must be like for business owners who have had to hit pause on their plans because they were unable to access important information about their SBA loans," said Paul Farrel of Union Bagel Company. "No one should have to put their dreams of starting a business on hold because of a few lawmakers in Washington DC."
Business owners at the event also called on Representatives Pingree and Michaud to advocate for closing corporate loopholes as a way to raise revenue and prevent additional cuts in the next round of budget negotiations.
In two and a half years of deficit reduction deals, Congress has put in place three times as much budget cutting ($1.8 trillion) as revenue boosting ($620 billion). All of the revenue increases have come from individuals, with corporations contributing nothing to the effort.
"It's time to stop governing from crisis to crisis and instead invest in our communities. Cuts to programs that our businesses and our customers rely on will not grow our economy," said Jean-Marie Caterina, who owns Caterina MacLean Real Estate in Scarborough. "As the federal budget debate begins, we want lawmakers to make sure large corporations join small businesses in finally paying their fair share of taxes."