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Small business owners on front lines in tough economy

Marketplace Staff Sep 7, 2011

Small business owners on front lines in tough economy

Marketplace Staff Sep 7, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Today, we found out companies advertised the most job openings in nearly three years. Employers posted 3.2 million
jobs in July, that according to the Labor Department.

Still, the unemployment rate is sky high, and President Obama goes before Congress tomorrow night to outline a multi-billion dollar jobs program. A lot of folks — especially the unemployed and small business owners of this country — will be watching closely at what the president will propose.

Someone who’s been on the front lines of this sour economy is JD Duncan, whose Chattanooga, Tenn., company sells industrial equipment to other businesses. And he’s on the line with us right now. Good morning, sir.

JD Duncan: Good morning.

Chiotakis: Well what’s it like being a small business owner in this economy?

Duncan: It’s challenging. We’ve had a number of plants that have closed down in and around our area. We primarily sell to manufacturing, and it’s just been very tough the last few years.

Chiotakis: What about hiring? I mean, how has the economy affected the people you hire, or whether you can hire a lot of people?

Duncan: Well, we’ve really contracted due to the contraction in manufacturing. We would like to hire some sales people, frankly, to try to expand, to try to grow our way out of this a little bit. But the expenses that they incur on the road with fuel costs being so high and the sales being so lean during these times, we just haven’t been able to do it.

Chiotakis: We hear a lot about tax credits — that small businesses should get tax credits to encourage more hiring. Would that encourage you to hire more people?

Duncan: No, it would not really encourage me because it would have to offset any kind of local taxes, and I just don’t see that happening. It would be nice, it would able us to kind of tend to our debts and tend to our operations, but no. I mean, there would have to be something very substantive. There would have to be new manufacturing, frankly, in our area, for me to feel really good about adding some new people.

Chiotakis: How are you feeling about the future of this country? The future of your business?

Duncan: The future of my business, frankly, I’m not feeling that hopeful about. Four or five years ago, they were building plants in my region; now, they’re closing them, and that’s who we primarily sell to. It just appears like good, honest, decent jobs that were allocated to good, honest, decent people are just going away. And you know, the politicians are just really — and I’m not political, especially — but they just seem like a bunch of jokes. All of them. I mean on both sides. You know, it’s just like we need to reset, and some really strong move in that area I think would go a long way to try to get us through this mess.

Chiotakis: JD Duncan, who owns a wholesale distribution plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mr. Duncan, thank you.

Duncan: Thank you.

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