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While Big Government Talks the Talk – Small Business "Walks the Walk"

January 26, 2011

Follow me, Mr. President.  Follow my sisters and brothers who make up the heart and soul of America.  I “walk the walk.”  My family, my friends, my neighbors and millions of Americans walk in my shoes, share my successes and failures.  

I truly live the American Dream, Mr. President and the miracle of it all is I spend many sleepless nights living it and I dream still.   

Like my brothers and sisters in small business across the country, I dream someday I can “talk the talk” and someone in big governemnt will listen.

Integra Business Systems, Inc. Safety Harbor, FL, a software development company, is a small business founded over 20 years ago.  Integra currently employs 30 full time employees (FTEs). Integra’s slogan is “advancing the paperless office.”  Integra fits the mold with regard to President Obama’s State of the Union address when he talks about “innovation” and ”poised for progress.” 

Am I wrong or was Obama’s entire speech crafted from the pages of the book, The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman?  I have read Release 3.0.  In Friedman’s book there are many enlightening passages with reference to America’s need for competitiveness with India, China and other progressive nation’s.  The book left me enlightened with heightened anxiety.  What to do?  Move to Switzerland?

In an earlier post on my Blog, I mention India and Switzerland… “Other countries (our competition) are offering significant economic incentives and tax breaks to attract IT companies to do business in their countries, provinces, cities… in the case of Switzerland we’re talking “cantons”, like Schaffhausen, a canton in northern Switzerland who offer tax breaks to attract businesses and perks like an executive hotel near the Zürich airport.  Oh and by the way, the Swiss have figured out how to provide a National Healthcare plan that works.”

I am reluctant to opine outside my immediate level of experience and industry expertise but generally speaking, I can hardly agree with the concept of one nation competing against another as opposed to one company competing against another.  Further, in my limited experience, government intervention can only prevent “free enterprise” as opposed to enable it.  So I am not sure in what context the president is using these words.

As an example, we do business with community banks.  I consider community banks to fall under the category of small business.  If we are going to have a TARP program, why stop with too large to fail?  Give community banks a chance to recover from their mistakes.  Better yet, forget TARP.  Let the big banks fail and the community banks can compete for the large bank customers.  Sure this is an oversimplification, but the facts are over five of our community bank customers have been taken over by the FDIC in the last 12 months, more will follow.  Aside from the fact communities are disrupted, especially when 30-40 bank employees lose their jobs, their suppliers and taxpayers are left holding the bag.  Why does government get to choose who wins and who loses?

The president said, “We are a nation that says, ‘I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company.”   We have a great idea.  We have been building upon it for over 20 years.  Our software products are designed to eliminate paper.   Go green.

Obama said, “We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known…”  We have managed to hold on to our entire staff of FTE’s throughout this recession.  There were no pay cuts here, no cut in benefits.  There were no raises either and we had to renegotiate our health care insurance to include higher deductibles.  That is and has been Integra’s investment towards the future.  We were able to retain and build with our people, intellectual property and now we are poised for growth. 

You might think the portion of the stimulus, 19B plus, set aside to help health care providers purchase Electronic Medical Records (EMR) would help Integra.  We have a medical management company that said this about our software…

“The purchase of iDentifi.net Enterprise Content Management software has allowed us to no longer store the voluminous amounts of paper that is indigenous to a medical practice. We estimate that the use of the iDentifi.net system has allowed us to store and instantly retrieve in excess of 1.5 million page equivalents. In the past, we needed 1 full-time FTE plus ~1000 sq. ft. of filing/storage space plus the necessary supplies to create tens of thousands of file charts, etc. Additionally, there were immeasurable man-hours in pulling charts/files, looking through them for the applicable data and then copying the information needed.”  Jeff Grossman, KG Health Partners, Safety Harbor, FL

Healthcare Gone Postal

…and so I thought.  Unfortunately the fees to become certified as a vendor remains too costly, restricted to two certification companies which is all about politics and it is a bureaucratic nightmare to the extent only consultants are making money thus far.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has set aside nearly $20 billion in incentive payments for physicians who adopt EHR technology over the next five years. In order to qualify for the up to $44,000 in incentives, physicians must be using “certified EHR technology” in a “meaningful manner.”  Excerpt from the “The Happy Hospitalist” blog.

Money and resources better spent, with greater certainty, lead us to “stick to our knitting,” which are financial institutions and financial services companies.

I would prefer tax relief, like a payroll tax holiday for small business employers and (not just) employees, alike and lower income taxes.  There are some positive signs for small business lending.  My concern is that government spending is largely hit or miss.  Tax relief, on the other hand is all about performance and performance would fuel the economy, not push some businesses or entities forward and leave others behind.

President Obama said in his speech, “In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living. Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation.”   He needs to set down Friedman’s book and pick up Let My People Go Surfing,  a book full of inspiration with an explanation, written by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc., maker of adventure equipment and clothing.   He exudes the true principles of entrepreneurship.  To the extent many entrepreneurs do, he “walks the walk and talks the talk.”

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    January 26, 2011 11:58 pm

    Well said Alan! We have sent so many jobs out of this country. You cannot find a startup willing to manufacture or produce a product in the good old USA. Sad state we are in. I have applied for jobs across the country. Not even a single reply. We have come to rely on healthcare and construction as our saviors. Forclosure, foodstamps and unemployment don’t matter when you have no where to go. We need to stop exporting work and stop importing goods!

    • Scott permalink
      January 27, 2011 12:30 am

      Reply to my own comment! I went through college, paid most of my own way. Paid off my loans after 5 years. Worked for 20 years and now the jobs I apply for want me to be bilingual? Give me a break!

      • January 27, 2011 8:49 pm

        Most likely English and Mandarin…best of luck with the job search.

  2. January 27, 2011 8:15 am

    I was busy the evening of Mr Obama’s speech, so I resorted to recording it, but something happened during my recording, so I am relying on blog’s such as this, and news commentary from reliable sources. Thanks for the rebuttal – I think the White House should invite you to give a commentary speech after the President, after the Republican and Tea Party speeches, to give a small business owner’s perspective. i am not sure that many of them have ever actually dug in the trenches to live the American dream.

    • January 27, 2011 9:04 pm

      I think you have hit on something here. To qualify to run for office, you should have to had run a business for two years. Don’t worry, I’m not quitting my day job.

  3. Reg Lepper permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:11 pm

    Alan

    Well said , as you know I am without a job after many years with a company that held the standard of manufacturing of men’s apparel in the United States for 135 years.WE were the last company in our industry to to manufacutre soley in our U.S. factories. End result Bankruptcy , and taken over by an Indian company resulting in the loss of almost 4500 factory workers along with many marketing positions. Now our products are being made in China where their govt. subsidizes the end cost of all goods made even after very low cost of labor.

    Your Pal

    Reg

    • January 28, 2011 12:34 pm

      Reg, I hadn’t thought about it, but isn’t it a little crazy that an Indian company, with their low cost of labor, still uses the Chinese to make their clothing? Maybe Mandarin will become India’s second language? Who would ever think the good ol’ USofA would ever become a 3rd world country!? And best of luck with your job search.

  4. March 5, 2012 10:29 am

    Reblogged this on Idea Capitalists.

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