Recognizing accomplishments of Maine’s small businesses

By Rep. Mike Michaud | Jun 02, 2010

On May 25, I joined Mainers Trapper Clark and Thomas Sturtevant at the White House for an event honoring the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Owners of the Year from across the country. Clark and Sturtevant, Maine’s Small Business Persons of the Year, own Alcom Inc. in Winslow.

During his remarks at the White House ceremony, President Barack Obama commented on the meeting we had with Clark and Sturtevant prior to his address: “I just met with Trapper Clark and Tom Sturtevant, who are the state of Maine’s Small Business Owners of the Year. They started a company that manufactures aluminum trailers about four years ago with 20 employees. They’ve grown rapidly over the last few years, and that growth has been supported by a Recovery Act loan from the Small Business Administration. They also got some fees waived. And today, they have 85 employees, are planning to add another 15 by the end of this year, and hope to add another 30 by the end of 2011.”

It was an honor to join these two successful Maine entrepreneurs at the White House. They deserve recognition for all of the terrific work they’ve done to grow their business and create jobs in Maine.

Clark and Sturtevant were not alone in being honored by the SBA this year. Ruth Cash-Smith of Machias was named “Maine and New England Women in Business Champion” for her work as a business counselor for Coastal Enterprises Inc. and the Maine Small Business Development Center. Philip Lander, who owns Atlantic Defense Company, LLC in Westbrook, was named “Maine and New England Veteran Small Business Champion.” And Becky McKinnell, president of iBec Creative in Portland, was honored as “Maine Young Entrepreneur of the Year.”

All of these award winners represent the best of Maine business and the good work being done by thousands of entrepreneurs in our state.

While we were at the White House event, the president called on Congress to do more for our small businesses. I couldn’t agree more. Small businesses are the real job creators and they deserve a fair shake. While the Recovery Act contained important tax benefits and increased lending opportunities, more clearly needs to be done.

I recently worked with my colleagues on the House Small Business Committee to pass a number of policies into law, including the elimination of certain SBA loan fees and an increase in federal loan guarantees so that access to capital is more affordable and available.

In the House, we passed an update to SBA’s lending and business development programs, which would bring these initiatives up to date to better reflect the needs of businesses today. And Congress is currently moving forward on measures outlined by the administration, including one that would create a new small-business lending fund that would help community and neighborhood banks increase lending to small businesses.

Combined, these policies should give a boost to entrepreneurs. Small firms across Maine deserve ready access to the resources they need to grow and create jobs. I believe we can truly honor small businesses through actions on their priorities. And while we have taken important steps, more needs to be done. We should be looking at easing the tax burden and making sure red tape doesn’t get in the way of small-business growth.

We all know that a full economic recovery will not happen overnight. But with the right policies, combined with an exceptional small-business community like the one here in Maine, I think we’ll be in a good position to see ourselves through these tough times.

Democrat Mike Michaud represents the 2nd Congressional District of Maine. He resides in East Millinocket and can be contacted at michaud.house.gov.

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