A Community Tackles How To Save Small Businesses

By Ken Newton
St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Small business owners in St. Joseph Missouri gathered together for a small-business roundtable. The event tackled a number of obstacles many face in running a businesses. Topics included confusing regulations to the cost of health care.

St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

Chelsey Sollars followed her passion for dance and opened a studio in St. Joseph not just to teach the performing art but to “produce amazing young women.”

But she also has a business to run, the TRUTH Academy of Dance, Tumbling and Fitness, and the overall economy can weigh down her dreams.

“I’m paid by parents who work,” she said. “If the parents aren’t working, because I’m an extracurricular activity … I’m the last one to get paid.”

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander heard from Sollars and others during a small-business roundtable in St. Joseph on Tuesday afternoon.

Kander, Democratic candidate for the U.
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S. Senate seat, later spoke at the opening of the Buchanan County Democratic Headquarters.

The roundtable, held at Goode Food Delivered, a Downtown market and organic produce delivery service, allowed the office seeker to reinforce his policy beliefs in entrepreneurship and strength in the middle class.

“Unfortunately a lot of folks have lost sight of the fact that somebody who starts up a business on the corner is an entrepreneur,” Kander said.

“Somebody who’s had a business for a full generation and wants to keep that business in place and find new and creative ways to provide value to their customers, that is an entrepreneurial endeavor.”

Participants told the secretary of state about obstacles they face in running businesses, ranging from regulations to the cost of health care.

Jim Wallerstedt, who retired as a school administrator and helped open Mod Podge, a boutique, with family members, told Kander that the Affordable Care Act has not necessarily been a gift for his daughter.

“She struggles with $400 payments (a month) for health insurance,” he said.

Scott Meierhoffer, of Meierhoffer Funeral Home and Crematory, and Kristie Arthur, of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, said workforce development remains a vital need in the community.

A problem is young people going elsewhere for opportunities, the roundtable agreed.

“We’ve always exported a lot of smart folks,” Meierhoffer said.

Arthur said Missouri Western State University has been working with local manufacturers to more closely match workforce needs with training, and Hillyard Technical School remains an asset.

But some young people end up going to Southeast Community College in Milford, Nebraska. “They give great training, and Nebraska steals them all,” she said. “We don’t get them back.”

Jason Myers, a St. Joseph sculptor who opened Goode Food Delivered, said the store fills a need in the community and provides an outlet for local producers.

Kander said these sorts of businesses prove essential to the economy.

“Not only are a lot of small business owners in the middle class but their customers are, too,” the candidate said. “To make sure they have that ability to inject money back into their local economy is incredibly important.”

Kander wants to unseat Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, who is seeking a second term. The Blunt campaign on Tuesday pushed back against the Democrat’s claims of small business support.

“Jason Kander is a national co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and supports her policies that would be disastrous for small businesses and farmers in Northwest Missouri and across the state,” said Rich Chrismer, a communications adviser to the Missouri Republican Party.

About 60 people turned out for the opening of the Democratic Headquarters, where Kander thanked supporters and urged continued effort during the last seven weeks before the November election.

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