It’s Small Business Saturday, a chance for politicians of all stripes to show their “small biz” bonafides. (Check out how many are tweeting with the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday.) Yet for the last 16 months, Congressional failure to renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program has damaged small businesses throughout the country.
Nearly 500 small businesses are among the companies and associations urging Congress to renew GSP. Small businesses aren’t just the most frequent GSP importers, research shows that small businesses are hurt more by GSP expiration: they are more likely than larger ones to lay off workers, delay hires, cut worker benefits, and cancel investments.
Take Halsted Bag, a family-owned and operated textile bag company in Jersey City, New Jersey in operation since 1876 (and in the same building since 1927). More than half of Halsted’s 50 full-time employees are sewing machine operators – jobs that are hard to find these days. They’d be even harder to find if Halsted couldn’t supplement its US-made bags with imported ones. Yet Halsted is paying an extra 9% tax on imported bags because of GSP expiration.
Or Evergreen Plastic Container, a small manufacturer in Portland, Oregon. After increasing prices to compensate for higher GSP taxes, it struggled to compete with larger companies: sales fell 20% year-over-year and it still paid $140,000 in new taxes! If Congress renews GSP retroactively, Evergreen Plastics will be able to hire new workers and offer existing ones health insurance and raises: neither of which has been possible because of GSP expiration.
Or Sophia Foods, a family-owned food wholesaler in Brooklyn, New York. GSP expiration prevented the company from buying a new warehouse that would have doubled its size. Instead of growing, Sophia Foods was forced to lay off 2 employees.
OR TRInternational, a Seattle, Washington-based chemical importer that has made the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Businesses in Washington State” list three times in the 20 years it has been in business. Over $100,000 in additional taxes has forced TRI to defer 1-2 new hires and scale back investments.
Instead of just talking about supporting small businesses, Congress should take bold action and renew GSP in the coming weeks. It would make many, many small businesses very happy.