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Uncertainty drags on small, medium businesses

Posted: November 18, 2012 - 12:08am

Small and medium-sized businesses are sitting on billions of dollars due to uncertainty caused by health care reform, the “fiscal cliff” and regulations.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Northwest Region Executive Director Chris Strow spoke at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce lunch lecture at the Moose Lodge on Thursday.

In a recent poll of U.S. Chamber members 90 percent of small and mid-sized businesses indicated they were holding back on new infrastructure and new hires.

“There is a huge amount of cash sitting back … by small and mid size businesses in America due to this degree of uncertainty,” Strow said.

The upcoming “fiscal cliff” is the number one anxiety, Strow said. Small businesses do not have the resources to study the implications of the automatic budget and tax cuts that could take place at the end of 2012.

“If you are a small or mid size business you are probably struggling every minute of every day just trying to keep the doors open,” Strow said.

Another concern, Strow said, is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“I am acutely aware of the obscenely high cost in Alaska of employers offering health care … fundamental inequities that this state suffers through,” Strow said. “Small and medium-sized businesses have anxiety about broad regulatory expansion. Over the last four years [we’ve seen] one of the highest regulatory expansion.”

Strow also made mention of $23 billion a month being pulled from the U.S. economy by regulations as another drag on businesses.

While the Alaska Chamber of Commerce is mostly silent on the first two of Strow’s small-business concerns, it has much to say about federal regulations.

In its 2013 Federal Priority Positions the state chamber lists regulatory concerns as two of its top three priorities. The chamber opposes Environmental Protection Agency regulation of diesel fuel use in certain marine engines and preemptive action by federal agencies in regards to lands in Alaska.

“The Alaska Chamber will oppose preemptive actions by regulatory agencies that make premature decisions outside the context of well established permitting processes,” according to material listed in Chamber’s priorities statement.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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