Kentucky small businesses discuss priorities with lawmakers

During the Kentucky Chamber’s Small Business Day at the Capitol Wednesday, Kentuckians representing more than 75 small businesses from across the state gathered and shared priorities with lawmakers.

Kentucky Chamber Small Business Council Chair Sarah Whitaker, owner of Williams Advertising in Hopkinsville, testified in front of the House Small Business and Information Technology Committee alongside Kentucky Chamber Manager of Public Affairs John Hughes about the issues facing the state’s employers.

Whitaker emphasized the challenges presented by the state’s workforce crisis, which is causing great harm to small businesses. She highlighted the Chamber’s recent report “20 Years in the Making – Kentucky’s Workforce Crisis” which showed 50% of all small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. And she added Kentucky small businesses employ nearly half of the Commonwealth’s workforce and lack of sufficient workforce is a threat to Kentucky’s economy.  

To grow Kentucky’s population, economy, and more, Whitaker applauded pro-growth policies such as House Bill 8, which seeks to lower the state income tax and modernize the tax code.

“I have a unique perspective on income tax’s effect on business, as my hometown is Hopkinsville and sits right on the Tennessee line.  I have watched my neighboring city across the border become the 5th fastest growing city in the United States.  That’s thanks in large part to the lack of income tax in Tennessee and the impact that has on both relocation and economic development.  My hometown has the youngest population in the state of Kentucky, and yet, our population remains stagnant, much like the rest of Kentucky.  What that means for small businesses in our state is we not only have challenges in the workforce, but we have challenges in growing our customer base,” Whitaker said, emphasizing states with no income tax are proving that it’s a huge boon to the economy. 

Another bill Whitaker pointed to that is meant to assist with workforce participation is House Bill 499.  She encouraged lawmakers to support the Employee Child Care Assistance Program to provide an attractive benefit for small business owners in competing to attract and retain workforce. 

“Kentucky will never be able to live up to its full economic potential with one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the nation. This is a problem that impacts not only big but small businesses as well. We appreciate your support of pro-business policies this session,” Whitaker said.

During the event, small business owners also heard from many lawmakers about the legislative session and talked with other top officials.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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