Every Day Is Earth for Small Business
Guest post by Tom Sullivan
Here in Washington, there is a hue and cry against "special interests," for every topic of debate. Bankers who provide homeowners with loans and who provide entrepreneurs with seed capital are the "special interests" who oppose financial re-regulation. Doctors who care for the sick are the "special interests" who tried to defeat health care legislation. And, manufacturers seem to be the pilloried "special interest" on the opposite side of any issue involving climate change, energy policy, or environmental protection.
The divisive language that permeates discourse in our nation's capital is distant from the reality of main street where the interests of business and the environment co-exist. It only makes sense that small businesses would care deeply about the environment. Small business owners live, work, and play where their businesses are located. They know their families, neighbors, and employees will hold them accountable for keeping their communities healthy, clean, and green. Plus, owning an environmentally friendly company can be financially rewarding. The report, "Small Wonders," released a year ago, highlights dozens of products, from irrigation systems, to cleaning products, to ballpoint pens made out of plants, that are proving to be profitable.
Henry Molded Products, based in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, is a perfect example of how America's small business sector celebrates Earth Day 365 days a year. Henry Molded manufactures packaging products made from 100 percent recycled fiber. Their re-use of more than 6000 tons of waste paper keeps 860,000 cubic feet of trash out of landfills every year. That is enough trash to cover a football field to a depth of 15 feet. 95 percent of Henry Molded's 75 employees live within 10 miles of their headquarters and within 10 miles of their facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Walk down the halls of Henry Molded and you will meet members of the local school board, the Rotary Club, soccer and softball coaches, and other volunteers.
Yes, Henry Molded is a "special" interest, but not in the way meant by politicians targeting dissenters to their point of view. Henry Molded and millions of other small businesses are "special" because of the role they play as economic heroes and community leaders.
The economic importance of small firms is widely known. Small business creates 60-80 percent of the net new jobs. In an economic recovery, small firms account for virtually all job creation. As innovators, small businesses are developing biofuels, batteries for hybrid cars, and other "green technologies" at a rate 12-14 times faster than large research and development firms according to governmentresearch.
As civic leaders, small businesses have an equally impressive record. An NFIB study shows that over 90 percent of small business owners contribute to their community by volunteering or through donations. The seventy million Americans who either own or work for a small business make up a powerful volunteer corps and their impact is felt when neighbors plant trees, clean up watersheds, or teach children about environmental stewardship.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (and the 46th year of operation for Henry Molded), let's applaud small business for treating every day as Earth Day.
Guest blog contribution from Tom Sullivan originally posted on AmericaSpeakon.org. Sullivan is an attorney with the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough where he runs the Small Business Coalition for Regulatory Relief -- he also served as Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration.