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W.Va. House committee talks small business at Marshall

On February 17, 2014

The West Virginia House of Delegates Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Committee met Monday at Marshall University to discuss local business in the Huntington area. They welcomed small business owners to come and express their concerns and solutions at an open meeting.

The Listening Tour was formed to give examples of success of small business and entrepreneurship and also give owners a voice to help elected officials create new policies. It also gave feedback from owners on how current laws affect businesses.

Derek Gregg, CEO of Vandelia Research, talked about how his business started off as a class project at Marshall and turned into a company. He credits several sources for his success in the past 10 years.

“There’s three things that I would point to that are necessary for growing businesses like my own and getting more high tech on university campuses,” Gregg said. “That is talent, community and capital. And there has been a number of things that the state has done in the past couple years in each of these areas.”

Some owners had other concerns for the House of Delegates. Rob Stepp, president of Creative Kitchen, a local family business that has been running for 50 years in the region brought up the troubles of hiring from the younger generations.

“We have reliable long-term employees and a tenured staff but on the other hand we’re challenged by the employment issues,” Stepp said. “We have very few young employees. Which leads us to a lot of uncertainty to our future.”

Stepp said he is dedicated to providing healthcare for his workers, but with the low rate of young employees, his healthcare rate is high. He also mentioned the struggle of getting everyone up to date using text, email and their new integrating use of iPads.

The meeting showed the wide range of problems affecting local businesses. Levi Hogan, the owner of Roll-A-Rama said his business has been a popular place for kids to go and spend time since 1962. He brought up the idea of high taxes on local businesses.

“Right now, I have major problems with paying all my taxes, because my taxes burn up so much of my money,” Hogan said. “I can’t even afford to put a sign outside of my building. There’s no help for me, which means there is no help for the kids.”

The meeting was focused on the House of Delegates listening to issues concerning small businesses.

Paulina Shepherd can be contacted at shepherd47@live.marshall.edu

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