- Jason Schmitt is the former CEO of Old Time Pottery and serves on the Tennessee State Workforce Development Board.
Tennessee has long been one of the best states in America to start a small business.
We have no personal income tax, the lowest debt per citizen in the country, and enough common sense to prevent bureaucratic red tape from stifling our entrepreneurs.
I had the opportunity to serve on the Beacon Center of Tennessee’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council, whose goal was to make Tennessee America’s innovation capital.
Earlier this year, we released an economic action plan, and the state Legislature has already enacted half a dozen of our recommendations into law, including the largest single tax cut in state history.
More:How the Tennessee Tax Act Works Removes Barriers for Businesses and Individuals | Opinion
The money will flow to businesses, not the government
Currently, more than 140,000 people who create jobs in small businesses from Memphis to Tri-City are exempt from gross income tax, and companies around the world will have an additional $150 million to invest in growth every year.
If the legislature completely eliminates the business tax, as we have proposed, even more money will flow to these businesses each year than to the government.
Allowing small businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money to build their local economy and hire more workers is not a partisan issue, but about all Tennesseans doing the right thing. We can and should do more for people like my parents, entrepreneurs who dreamed of a small trucking company almost 50 years ago and started it with $200, an empty garage and a lot of grease.
Tennessee’s next generation of business owners already have great ideas that will lead our state toward lasting economic prosperity if we allow them to put those ideas into action.
They need a one-stop shop for their business, not three state agencies requiring them to file and track separate documents. An even better solution would be to abolish registration fees for an entrepreneur’s first business, so that the money can be transferred to where it is most needed.
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We must train the next generation of Tennessee entrepreneurs
We can’t expect aspiring small business owners to grow on trees. Like my parents, aspiring entrepreneurs need help understanding how to balance a good idea with running a business.
Most high schools do not adequately teach financial literacy, leaving many owners to learn through trial and error.
Tennessee is home to numerous technology-applied colleges (TCATs) that are almost free and are an ideal place for experienced entrepreneurs to hone future skills and avoid costly mistakes.
We should encourage the offering of on-site and distance business courses at all 27 TCAT locations so that the next generation of job creators have the knowledge to read financial statements, balance budgets and develop business plans.
Only by providing the next generation of entrepreneurs with the tools to thrive can Tennessee maintain its reputation as one of the best states to start a small business in.
Jason Schmitt is the former CEO of Old Time Pottery and serves on the Tennessee State Workforce Development Board. Jason previously held management positions at Walmart, Amazon, Gap and Mattel before joining Old Time Pottery.
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