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I had the opportunity to hear from businessmen and women Oct. 10 as part of a Small Business Town Hall Meeting in Radcliff. I organized this meeting to bring local business stakeholders together with representatives at the federal and state level. Congressman Brett Guthrie and state Sen. Dennis Parrett joined me at Colvin Community Center to hear feedback and concerns from folks who run businesses here in Hardin County.
Many of the frustrations expressed by the business leaders gathered that day are shared by business owners and managers throughout Hardin County and Kentucky. Foremost was a sense that rampant government regulations are strangling business.
At the federal level in particular, bureaucrats are overwhelming America’s producers and creators with burdensome regulations and stifling red tape. The EPA alone almost single-handedly has shut down Kentucky’s coal industry by creating ridiculous mandates that eliminate new mine operations.
According to new EPA standards, the tap water you and I drink would be considered unacceptably contaminated if it was flowing from a mine operation.
This same penchant for regulation by unelected government officials has begun to creep into some state agencies. And when regulations are not multiplied, new and innovative “fees” are imposed by administrators in the executive branch. These revenue streams keep the bureaucratic empire running but nickel and dime small businesses to death.
Amazingly, most of these fees and regulations are imposed with little or no legislative oversight or meaningful review. This executive fiat power proves once again the wisdom of our Founders in advocating a “check and balance” on power between the branches of government.
Finally, businesses are struggling with simple uncertainty about what government will do next. Whether in terms of convoluted health care rules or mind-boggling tax code or regulatory oversight, businesses cannot make long-range plans. They are reluctant to invest not only in capital projects but in hiring and training workers unless they have a reasonable expectation that those investments will bear fruit over the long haul.
As I shared with the folks gathered at our Town Hall Meeting, we do have much to be thankful for here in Hardin County. Since May, our local metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Hardin and LaRue counties, was ranked first in the nation for Growth in Gross Domestic Product and Percent Increase in Personal Income Growth by the U.S. Commerce Department Bureau for Economic Analysis. And, Forbes Magazine ranked us in the top 20 percent for Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers and top 5 percent for Best Cities for New Jobs. That helps explain our lower than average unemployment rate.
More than just statistics, those rankings prove the impact not only of the BRAC but of leadership from our Chamber of Commerce and those in every level of elected office who are actively promoting this area. And, it testifies to the success of businessmen and women in building an economic engine that continues to add new jobs and attract national attention.
Even with all the good things happening here in Hardin County, we are not completely insulated from the fallout of policies in Washington and Frankfort. Some elected leaders think that “business” is a dirty word — and that government is the source of job creation in America.
As Winston Churchill said, “Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.”
We know better. As Hardin County continues to grow and businesses here continue to compete and thrive, I believe that our local leaders will continue to work together with vision and foresight. And if government at every level will limit itself to its Constitutionally defined responsibilities, American business will create the jobs that we need to prosper.
If you have ideas or questions about how Kentucky can do an even better job of promoting business and job creation in the private sector, please let me know. I heard the feedback of those gathered in Radcliff last week loud and clear, but I would be glad to hear from you as well.
Tim Moore, a Republican from Elizabethtown, is the state representative serving the 26th District.