Economists and West Virginia political leaders often have referred to small businesses as the "backbone" of our state's economy. The Small Business Association says that nationally "these businesses are central to the United States' health and well-being."
In Randolph County, and especially Elkins, the same holds true. For anyone who doesn't think Elkins is progressive in trying to attract even more of these businesses, consider this time line:
Feb. 1 - House Republicans discuss plans to introduce a bill that would grant small businesses a 20 percent tax deduction.
Jan. 31 - President Barack Obama speaks to the Cabinet prior to its meeting, emphasizing that he hopes Congress will "get a bill together quickly" to promote small businesses.
Jan. 24 - President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address challenging lawmakers to deliver him a bill that expands tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs.
Jan. 19 - Elkins City Council passes a resolution to waive business and occupation taxes for the next two years for any new business.
The city's proposal to help new businesses wasn't a novel idea - other communities throughout the state have passed similar measures. We applaud City Council for approving the resolution. We encourage people to give more consideration to entrepreneurship, and we ask existing businesses to realize how growth can attract even more customers.
For example, rewind to downtown Elkins in the late 1960s and early1970s. Friday nights were busy times. People parked to go inside the bank to cash their paychecks, they purchased shoes at Clinton's, bought shirts at The Men's Shop and skirts at Clothes Horse, treated themselves to high-end cosmetics at Family Drug, and shopped for hardware, clothing and furniture at the three-story Montgomery Ward. They may have even stopped for a dessert at Murphy's lunch counter or picked up a bag of warm cashews to carry along throughout town.
It's obvious that several decades later, people's shopping habits have changed and not nearly as many businesses are located downtown. However, if more new shops open their doors, it increases the likelihood that additional people will visit the downtown area. Once they park and begin walking to their destination, there's a good chance they may just stop at more than one store.
It's our hope that city workers stay busy checking the "tax exempt" box on applications for business licenses.