Alabama Governor Pushes Small Business Assistance

A group of small business owners and politicians gathered at the Cullman, Alabama, Area Chamber of Commerce Friday to hear Governor Robert Bentley's pledge to bring more assistance to locally owned shops.

Bentley said he plans to unveil a new website soon to help small business owners and entrepreneurs find valuable information and assistance from the state.

"We've announced 55,000 to 60,000 new jobs with industry, but we haven't done a lot for small business," Bentley told the audience. "There are a lot of good resources but people don't know where to look."

The governor said he has asked the University of Alabama to put together a comprehensive website for business owners and those looking to start a business. He also said a telephone number would be established for those who prefer to call.

"What we will roll out in two or three months is going to be a mode for the country," Bentley said.

The meeting Friday also provided business owners an opportunity to ask the governor questions about laws affecting small business operations.

Rickey Kreps, co-owner of Office Equipment CO Inc. of Cullman, asked the governor about the burden of taxes on small businesses.

"We've been trying to do some things on taxes. And there are some taxes that are burdensome instead of productive," Bentley said.

Ron Faust, owner of Stone Bridge Farm, talked about several problems he had encountered in establishing and maintaining his business because of various regulations at the state level.

"I've had a lot of struggles. I appreciate everything you've done. I love Alabama but they made it very difficult," Faust said.

Bentley said many businesses face hurdles in getting established but believes the new information site that is coming soon will help overcome the problems.

The governor next heard from Chris Borden of Borden Family Pharmacy.

"I know you've taken a lot of licks for not expanding Medicaid but I want to encourage you to stick to it," Borden said.

The governor pledged not to expand Medicaid, which takes up the majority of money in the state's General Fund budget, as long as he remains governor.

"It's a philosophy. I don't want to put more people on welfare. They say it's free, but there ain't nothing free," Bentley said. "We are trying to fix the system we have now."

Cullman State Farm agent Mickey Parrish also brought up the matter of states rights, a theme that has been common among Alabama Republicans in recent years.

"I'm a states rights person. The best government is local government, your mayors and commissioners. We have essentially 50 different countries that banded together and formed a federal government, not the other way around," Bentley said. "I also know that most governors are conservative, even the Democrats, when you get them together. I think the worst thing that comes out of Washington is the agencies, They are actually making laws and that's not right."

The governor also addressed public education and touted his belief in pre-kindergarten classes as a means of providing a strong foundation for students and increasing the quality of workers in the state.

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Copyright 2014 - The Cullman Times, Ala.

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