Business

Main St.: Trump for president!

 

As Americans go to the polls on Tuesday for primaries in five states, one big contingent that may wield tremendous influence is the small-business rank and file. The nation’s 28 million small businesses represent 54 percent of all U.S. sales and have provided 55 percent of all jobs since the 1970s, according to the Small Business Administration.

This should be a day of reckoning for the candidates as Main Street tries to get its voice heard. According to a recent Manta survey, a stunning 60 percent of small-business owners plan to vote in their state primaries and caucuses. Tuesday is a big day for the six presidential candidates in both parties to receive delegates, with voting taking place in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.

What’s driving small-business owners to the voting booths? According to John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, a social network for small-business owners, “there are issues squeezing small-business owners from every side — the economy, taxes and health care. They are looking for a candidate who understands how their sector is being impacted.”

Who comes out on top? So far, small-business owners said their No.1 pick is Republican candidate and business mogul Donald Trump in Manta’s survey, which polled 8,292 small-business owners nationwide between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1. Thirty-eight percent said the businessman would be the best president for small business, while 21 percent said Democratic candidate Clinton would be.

The top concerns for small-business owners are the economy (49 percent), taxes (18 percent), health care (10 percent) and immigration (8 percent), according to the Manta poll.

Other hot-button issues: the high cost of government regulations, the minimum wage, immigration reform that would make it easier for employers to hire skilled talent from abroad through expansion of the H-1B program, and even trade policy that would affect the nation’s small exporters and importers.

“Small-business owners are really concerned about the economy, and only 1 in 5 feel they have recovered from the Great Recession,” said Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, an advocacy and education organization for start-up and small-business owners.

“Many of our 100,000 members tell us they are still in survival mode and they are looking at the candidates’ policies to see how each plan will spur economic growth.”

The candidates’ personal ethics and beliefs will also be a deciding factor for small-business voters. Another Manta poll, of 2,432 small-business owners nationwide, revealed that 41 percent of entrepreneurs will be influenced by a candidate’s ethics and beliefs.

How they stack up

As the presidential election campaign picks up momentum, many entrepreneurs and small-business owners are hungry for solutions to the issues they care about. And they are looking for the candidate who is addressing their concerns best.

“So far, the candidates haven’t said a lot about small business,” said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of the Small Business Majority, a network of 42,000 small-business owners. Although both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) have outlined a small-business plan, most of the other candidates have made broad-brush proposals on many of the issues. Even the Clinton and Rubio plans lack some key specifics.

Alexander Reichmann, 27, whose business iTestCash, in Monsey, New York, offers products for secure handling of cash, worries about the impact high taxes may have on the ability of small-business owners like himself to invest money in hiring, marketing and other areas critical to business growth. He said he isn’t “running toward” any of the candidates but has been interested in Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) ideas on abolishing the IRS and adopting a flat tax. Still, he adds, “I don’t know his exact plans.”

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