National Small Business Week kicked off today. According to the SBA, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. These companies are also some of the biggest users of the GSP program: more than 530 small businesses with 100 or fewer employees are on our GSP supporter list. That’s about 80 percent of the companies on the list.
Small businesses also have been the hardest hit from GSP expiration. A survey conducted last fall of nearly 250 GSP importers made that clear. In the survey, we asked companies to select from six possible negative impacts – from lost sales to layoffs – that they had experienced as a direct result of GSP expiration. In every case, small businesses were most likely to report hardships, as shown in the table below.
The survey report, available here, includes a more-detailed breakdown for small businesses and company-specific examples.
For example, Stackhouse Athletic Equipment in Salem, Oregon has 9 employees. When it tried to raise prices to cover the GSP taxes, sales of those products dropped by 10 percent. As a result, Stackhouse had to cut health benefits for current workers and put off hiring another full-time employee. The report includes many similar examples of small businesses that were growing and hiring new workers – or planned to do so – until GSP expired.
If Members of Congress want to help small businesses, they should renew the GSP program immediately. Indeed, if they want to pass legislation that disproportionately helps small business, GSP should be at the top of the list. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) clearly gets it – as do the rest of the Members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees. So what’s the hold up?