BETHEL – The Bethel Business Association held their annual luncheon on March 7 to celebrate the previous year and kickoff the rest of 2016 for small businesses in Clermont County.
The featured speaker was Congressmen Brad Wenstrup from Ohio’s Second District. Wenstrup himself had been a business while operating his podiatric office before being elected to serve in Congress. Wenstrup said speaking to the crowd of small business owners is “preaching to the choir” about the struggles with regulations put on by the federal government, and added he was happy to be among friends and colleagues who want what is best for the region.
“It is always fun to be talking to people who have common interests and similar backgrounds,” Wenstrup said. “People often forget when you are in medicine you are running a business as well. I mean gosh I started with two employees back in the day.”
Wenstrup said regulations from Washington are stunting the growth on small business back here in Ohio and across the county. He said he was not only the restrictions from agencies such as the EPA but the administrative cost of operating offices such as HUD or Department of Education.
“You want to look at every agency like that including the military,” Wenstrup said. “Now, I am all for funding the military, but sometimes we have to look at how much we are spending in administrative cost as well. It is fair game. When it comes to SNAP, housing, welfare, we don’t want any one of these programs to go away. Anyone of us could find ourselves in that situation someday, but the problem is they are all over the map.”
Wenstrup said cuts from the current administration to the military have made the United States less safe inside of our own boarders but cost cutting measures should never be at the expense of trained soldiers on the ground for threats both foreign and domestic. Wenstrup said the biggest problem with so many agencies all over the board a person has to see several offices to get help but also a person feels penalized for gaining employment.
“The real key we have got to quit penalizing people for taking jobs,” Wenstrup said. “I hear this all the time – a single mom was offered a job but if I take it my kids lose their healthcare. We need to have a sliding scale so the more successful they are the more we roll back some of those benefits so they always come out ahead by advancing their lives.”
Wenstrup said employers tell him that prospective employees don’t take jobs for fear of losing benefits such as health insurance, child care, food stamps or housing. He said that is a broken system in Washington and it needs to come from those who know the situation best. He said a person in one state has different needs than another and they must work those things out in the state not by a federal mandate that blankets all people under one umbrella.
“We have to restore these programs,” Wenstrup said. “Basically we can’t afford to keep them all going before it all collapses.”
Wenstrup said businesses are not built by large corporations but rather come from small businesses getting started. Federal regulations put a hinder small businesses from growing with regulations such as the Affordable Care Act and restrictions put on community banks for lending to those companies trying to get off the ground.
The nail that has been beat over the head, even in areas where businesses are looking to grow, finding quality workers has been an issue. There are two major reasons for that, one being skills and the other being the ability to pass a drug test. Wenstrup said communities need to work to put drug use on the forefront and help curb the problem, but what works in his District might not work else where or even an individuals treatment may not work for someone else.
“Local communities know it best, what works in one community may not work in another,” Wenstrup said. “This is a legitimate problem. This is a dependency problem not just an addiction problem. A dependency where someone finds themselves in this situation and I compare it to someone who physically didn’t eat for six days, what would you do to get food. That is where people end up.”
Wenstrup said closing down the pill mills has allowed Mexican cartel in import drugs through the southern boarder and make its way all the way to Ohio. He said the boarder must be secured if communities want to do anything to fight the opioid problem.
He is hopeful of bringing the District to the forefront for job creation as well as the fight on drug dependency. Wenstrup said he fights for small businesses because he knows what is like to be in their shoes because not so long ago actually he was.