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Economic Development Government News

5Q: Rep. Bryon H. Short on the minimum wage, small business and Trump

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Rep. Bryon H. Short  has no shortage of roles at Legislative Hall. He is the chair of the Economic Development, Banking Insurance, Commerce and Tourism committee and a founding member of the Small Business Caucus. We asked Short five questions on the current state of the economy and government in Delaware.

What is the foremost concern of the small business owners who attend caucus meetings?

At the founding of the Small Business Caucus there were three core concerns of members: access to capital, health insurance, and regulations. Access to capital has improved as we have moved out of the recession. The state has made a significant effort to examine its regulatory environment following the signing of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Unfortunately, cost of health care/insurance remains a daily challenge to the survival of too many small businesses.

How is the Carney administration affecting small business in Delaware?

As evidenced by Gov. Carney’s first executive order, he has placed a high priority on Delaware creating a business climate that can compete both nationally and internationally. Executive Order 1 created a task force charged with developing a new approach to economic development. As a part of the legislation coming out of the task force work, a new Division of Small Business has been created with in the Department of State. Its primary focus is to support our existing businesses and to help small businesses thrive in Delaware.

How is the Trump administration affecting small businesses here?

I have not had a small business owner note the impact of the Trump administration on their business. Obviously, the just-passed tax bill is likely to have significant impact on small businesses but it will take some time to determine exactly what is in the law and then to feel its impact.

How will the minimum wage law affect Delaware’s small businesses?

The idea of creating the Small Business Caucus sprung from this very issue. In 2007 a minimum-wage increase bill was being moved quickly through the General Assembly as the state and nation were headed into the Great Recession: the wrong time to increase wage pressure. There are strongly held viewpoints on this issue, but the research I have been most swayed by indicates that, as a public policy, minimum wage can be helpful to economic growth if it is done in small incremental steps during an expansion. With the cost pressures mentioned previously, an increase in wage can be challenging for small businesses. That is why it’s critical for the members of the Small Business Caucus to ensure their colleagues understand the complexity of making a small business successful.

What legislation coming up this session in Dover is most important to small business?

As chair of the House Economic Development Committee, there are a number of legislative issues I am working on in conjunction with the governor’s economic development team. I have to say the initiative I’m most excited about and hoping has significant impact on Delaware’s business climate is the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. If we are able to achieve success with this effort the positive impact on Delaware’s small businesses will be substantial.

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