Small businesses are the backbone of America, and they are especially important to Rhode Island’s economy. In Rhode Island, small business owners employ a majority of the state’s private sector workers and account for the greater part of newly created jobs. Further, they bring new and innovative services and products to the marketplace and offer professional opportunities to diverse and traditionally underrepresented groups. Now more than ever, Congress must support the growth of America’s small businesses and help stimulate the engine of this nation’s economy.
Rhode Island’s Food Economy
To highlight one of Rhode Island’s growing industries, I launched a series of Food Weeks in 2014. In the Spring and Fall, we got to see the many products and jobs produced right here in the Ocean State. From farms to small breweries, restaurants to food trucks, classrooms to famers markets, the food and food service industry is alive and well. There is great room for growth in the food economy – both for customers and for workers. Many of the employment opportunities require on-the-job skills training, and the companies offer room for quick advancement.
I will continue to support the many businesses in our food economy, and help workers to gain the skills needed for a career in these jobs. We’re going to need people with such diverse skills as restaurant management, agricultural science, culinary arts, and everything in between.
Making Health Coverage More Affordable
Although many small employers would like to offer health insurance to their employees, the increasing cost of coverage has made this a growing challenge for Rhode Island businesses.. That is one of the many reasons I supported the Affordable Care Act, which helps level the playing field by increasing their bargaining power. At the same time, small business owners will have the flexibility to make the right choices for their business and their employees. The law has already made tax credits available to thousands of Rhode Island businesses to ease the burden of providing coverage. This Small Business Health Care Tax Credit can cover up to 35 percent of the premiums a small business pays to cover its workers. In 2014, the rate increased to 50 percent. Additionally, firms with 100 or fewer workers can now pool their buying power and reduce administrative costs by purchasing insurance through HealthSource RI. There is additional information about the Affordable Care Act and small businesses at HealthSourceRI.com.