Small Business Success Is Key for Washington’s Sustainability


April 6, 2010

Washington state’s small business owners are getting a first-hand look at ways to improve their economic environment, thanks to the Washington Policy Center (WPC).  The think tank is taking 24 ideas on the road and sharing them in 24 locales around the state.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Washington’s economy,” wrote Carl Gipson, director of WPC’s Center for Small Business. “We are committed to helping improve the small business climate in our state, and going on a tour of Washington is a great way to get the conversation started.”

The topics in the WPC tour range from unemployment insurance to state taxes. They’re included in the WPC report, Lead the Way: Small Business and the Road to Recovery. The ideas were provided by small business owners throughout the state in late 2009.

Mr. Gipson provides this ominous reminder: “Recent data shows Washington’s small business failure rate is the second-highest in the nation.”

To be candid, this Biz Coach site has long voiced concerns about government behavior – the theft of economic freedom and political freedom — so I really appreciate Mr. Gipson’s observation:

“The proper function of taxation is to raise money for core functions of government, not to direct the behavior of its citizens,” he wrote.

“This is true whether government is big or small, and this is true for lawmakers at all levels of government,” he added. “Many lawmakers think of the tax code as a way to penalize ‘bad’ behaviors and reward ‘good’ ones. They have sought incessantly to guide, micromanage and steer the economy by manipulating the tax laws.”

Then, there’s this reminder: “The State Auditor has conducted 23 audits as of December, 2009, ‘identifying billions of dollars in unnecessary spending, potential cost savings and economic benefits and recommending numerous ways to improve state and local government operations’,” he wrote.

“Too often, policymakers act without considering or measuring the impact of their decisions on the owners of mom-and-pop businesses, even though those are the very businesses that are disproportionately hampered by the regulations and taxes they impose,” wrote Mr. Gipson.

And he shares some history about the impact of small business.

“During the 2003-2004 recovery period from the recession from the early 2000s, businesses with fewer than 500 employees hired almost 1.9 million workers, while businesses with more than 500 employees laid off over 200,000 workers,” he wrote. “In Washington, using both the state government’s and Washington Policy Center’s definition of small business (fewer than 50 employees), small businesses make up 96 percent of all registered businesses while employees of small businesses account for 41 percent of the state’s workforce.”

Here is the WPC tour schedule:

WPC’s Web site:

From the Coach’s Corner, a reminder if you need business counseling at no charge, consider the Small Business Development Center nearest you (SBDC).

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.