President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have spent lots of time debating tax plans aimed at stimulating the economy. One issue that needs more attention is the impact of the federal government picking winners and losers.
It’s one thing for the government to provide incentives enticing businesses to invest and develop certain industries or goals and yet another to fund unsustainable objectives. Green energy is a perfect example. The government has given away lots of money to prop up an industry that shows no promise of achieving sustainability. And when government cuts the funding, the industry collapses.
But who gets hurt?
The small businesses that supplied these companies and invested in equipment and inventory to meet the needs of what appeared to be a new opportunity often are the ones left holding the bag.
I know of a small manufacturer who ramped up production to support the solar industry, adding equipment and expanding his workforce to 150 employees. As soon as the government cut support to his customer, the orders stopped. He is no longer running three shifts, has well under 100 employees and is looking to sell equipment.
I am the president of an 89-year-old manufacturing firm. The last four years have been the toughest and most uncertain of my 33 years at this firm. So while I feel very fortunate that we are weathering this economic storm, I remain anxious about our future. I see opportunities to expand our production and distribution, but with an ever-changing tax code and regulatory environment and continual government intervention to pick winners and losers, I sit on the sidelines waiting for greater stability.
These government actions are in my opinion the greatest deterrent to small business investment and, by extension, the greatest deterrent to job creation.
Thomas E. Secor is president of Durable Corporation, a manufacturer/master distributor of loading dock bumpers and floor matting based in Norwalk, Ohio.