The following Op-ed was published in the Desert Sun November 15th by Patrick Swarthout, Economic Development Officer for the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce.
On behalf of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, we would like to offer our congratulations and best wishes on becoming our next President. As were the 44 men who have held the office before you, you are now tasked with the responsibility of leading the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen. The United States of America was built on the sweat and ambition of the American worker, and at the heart of that effort are the men and women of this country that proudly wear the title “Small Business Owner.”
We know you have traveled the country extensively over the past year, and no doubt have had many conversations with the country’s business owners. Please allow us to offer a view from this small corner of the world we call home, the Coachella Valley. Our economy is a diverse one, from agriculture at the east end of the valley, to the tourism hubs on the west. Our almost 1,400 business members all work hard to serve the half a million residents of our valley, and in some portions of our economy, to serve the world. We see many things to celebrate at home. Our public festivals have grown and now command the attention of the world, bringing in close to a billion dollars a year to our valley’s economy. Innovators and entrepreneurs occupy our technology incubators at our valley’s I-Hub, our Tribal nations continue to prosper with gaming and other economic ventures, and the retail hubs in our valley fill annually with seasonal residents. We have much to be thankful for.
We also face challenges. An ever-expanding regulatory environment is challenging our ability to conduct business in a nimble and efficient manner. We face a political system that continues to place new mandates on our commerce, and a legal system that often shows little regard for our difficulties. Soaring insurance premiums of all kinds continue to drain our profits, and even well intentioned employers are finding it increasingly difficult to properly care for their employees. Yes, we want to employ our workers full time and provide benefits, but in many cases the finances of a broken employment system are dictating that we cannot. The deep desire of every small business owner in our valley is to unleash their dreams, determination, and skill for the betterment of the local economy and their own prosperity, but all too often our government is not supporting our efforts. In extreme cases, they are hindering them. Mr. President, with all due respect, this is not where we wish to be.
We hope among all the dialogue and promises that poured out of this election, the promise to remember the “forgotten men and women of America” includes us, the small business owners. We are here every day, working hard to drive the economic engine that fuels the hopes and dreams of this generation and those to come. All we ask is that you help us accomplish that goal.
The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce