Governor Gregoire Moves to Support Critical Small Business Sector

October 26, 2010By Seattle Business Magazine

The Governor signed an executive order today with the goal of helping small businesses in the state grapple with “the worst economic times in 80 years.” Companies with fewer than 50 workers are critical to the economy because they account for 95 percent of the state’s employers.

The way out of this recession is creating jobs, and no one is better at creating jobs than small business owners, Gregoire said. Ive reached out to dozens of small businesses across the state and they all tell me the same thing. They want more room to be successful by making state processes as simple as possible. This executive order brings a new level of simplicity to current and future business owners, while expanding our effort to reduce business costs.

The executive order calls for the following:

(1) The Department of Commerce, in consultation with small businesses, to lead the development of the states application to the U.S. Treasury for federal funds to increase access to credit for small businesses pursuant to the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Commerce will develop an SSBCI loan program that targets financing gaps in the system consistent with our state economic development strategy.

(2) The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce to incorporate small businesses into their state export initiative strategies. Additionally, the Department of Commerce will actively work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) on the new federal grant program directed to states to provide funding to assist small businesses with expanding exports sales.

(3) The Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security Department, and the Department of Revenue shall review current practices and tax and rate structures with the goal of reducing state imposed costs for small businesses and report to the Governor specific options to consider no later than January 5, 2011.

(4) The Employment Security Department and the Departments of Labor & Industries and Revenue, shall work to protect law-abiding businesses from unfair competition from the underground economy. The Departments shall coordinate efforts to enlist help from the public and the business community to detect and prevent participation in the underground economy. A public education campaign shall be an integral part of the strategy.

(5) The Department of Revenue, in consultation with small businesses, local governments, and other interested stakeholders, shall evaluate ways to reduce the complexity of the states sales tax system. Findings and recommendations from this work shall be reported to the Governor no later than June 30, 2011. The Department shall consult with stakeholders including but not limited to: Association of Washington Cities, Washington State Association of Counties, Washington Association of County Officials, Washington Food Industry Association, Association of Washington Businesses, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Independent Business Association, Washington State Transit Association and the Washington Retailers Association.

(6) The Employment Security Department and the Departments of Labor & Industries and Revenue shall provide alternatives for late payment of taxes and premiums and provide the information on the internet to businesses, employers and tax practitioners. Such information will include the availability of penalty and interest waivers. The Departments shall work to ensure clear and consistent ways for business to make late payments and provide a report to the Governor by January 5, 2011.

(7) The Department of Commerce, working with the Governors Office of Regulatory Assistance and key state agencies that regulate business, shall consolidate the variety of small business licensing, registration and certification guides into one integrated online resource available across all state agencies by June 30, 2011.

(8) The Department of Commerce, working with the Governors Office of Regulatory Assistance and key state agencies that regulate business, shall complete a study to identify and evaluate the current regulatory steps and processes required of small business and identify ways to streamline these processes and procedures without diminishing public health and safety. The study, which may include a pilot project, shall be completed by March 1, 2011.

(9) The Governors Job Creation Subcabinet shall regularly meet with representatives of small businesses, identify issues affecting small business, and review progress on this Executive Order.