CHARLESTON – House Speaker Tim Miley and his House leadership team are forming a work group, with the intent of it becoming a standing committee when the legislative session begins, that will travel the state to hold panel discussions on how to foster small business growth and encourage entrepreneurship.
“We will work collaboratively with people at the local level, to hear from as many successful small businesses and entrepreneurs as possible to determine what hurdles they might have faced that we, as a legislative body, can remove to allow small businesses to flourish,” Speaker Miley said.
“Their stories can inspire others to follow in their footsteps, and their insights help us create an environment that encourages small businesses to grow, improve and innovate.”
The bipartisan work group, which is to meet in different regions of the state starting in December through the end of 2014, will hold discussion forums, which members of the public are invited to attend. Once the 2013 regular session begins, Speaker Miley intends to make the group a permanent standing committee to consider legislation affecting small businesses.
“It’s time that we focus on small business and entrepreneurship, because too often legislation that benefits large corporations can overshadow the needs of small businesses in West Virginia,” Speaker Miley said. “We want to reach out to small business owners, local chambers of commerce, trade and technical schools, and county and local governments.”
Kanawha Delegate Doug Skaff, owner and managing partner of Building & Remodeling Warehouse in Nitro, will chair the committee.
“We want to hear from current and former business owners who have maintained a payroll, and may have provided health insurance or retirement plans – people who distribute W2s, not receive W2s,” Skaff said. “We want to know how they achieved their success.
“We also want to know what obstacles these businesses might have faced – if they were able to overcome them, how – and whether we can remove those obstacles.”
Delegate Bill Hartman, a retired insurance company owner from Randolph County, and Delegate Jason Barrett, the 31-year-old owner of a restaurant in Berkeley County, will be Co-Vice Chairmen of the committee.
House Majority Leader Harry Keith White, Bank of Mingo board chairman, also will serve on the committee.
“Large corporations bring needed jobs and great economic benefit to the state, but we should never overlook the importance of small business to our local economies, as both job providers and active members of their communities,” White said. “Small businesses are valuable not just to our economy, but to our educational, cultural and social well being. Their growth is critical to West Virginia’s future.”
Speaker Miley, who will be an ex officio, non-voting member of the committee, said he has talked to dozens of House members who are also small business owners about the initiative, and there is a great deal of interest in serving on the committee.
He intends to announce the membership in the next two weeks, so the committee can begin meeting in December.
“Each member will bring a unique perspective on small business operation that will enrich these forums,” Speaker Miley said. “I expect this to be an extremely valuable experience for all involved that will provide fresh ideas to help move the state forward.”