Op-Ed: Bet on small businesses to succeed in new normal

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Balancing the health, safety and welfare of Floridians with the dire need to reopen our economy, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been the steady hand we’ve needed through these uncertain times. He understands that the diversity of Florida’s communities requires much more than a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening our state, because more than anyone, he knows that it won’t be government that gets Floridians back to work.

According to the Small Business Administration, small companies create 1.5 million jobs annually and account for 64% of net new jobs created in the United States. Simply put, the little guys generate nearly half of all jobs in the world’s largest economy.

As the president of the Seminole County Chamber, I have seen first-hand the catastrophic impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses. From the local diners, pubs and restaurants, to the gyms, yoga studios, boutiques, and so many more, Florida’s leading job creators have suffered an economic blow from which many will never recover and the time is now to take action and support them.

Restaurants have converted their entire businesses to take-out, craft studios have offered take-home kits for their loyal customers to enjoy, and small businesses across our communities have harnessed the same entrepreneurial spirit on which they built their businesses to not only survive, but to provide the hope we’ve all so desperately needed.

Small business owners quickly adapted to working from home full-time while educating their children. A small advertising shop that had folks working remotely, surveyed their employees to find out readiness and willingness to return to work. Others have instituted staggered work schedules so their offices are a little less full as we establish the new normal.

Without government telling them, small businesses have done everything they need to do to reimagine their businesses to safely serve their customer, their community and their families.

So, while some have chosen to point fingers and politicize this global pandemic and resulting economic tsunami, true leadership has emerged across the country and here at home in Central Florida in our small businesses. The leaders working to pave Florida’s pathway back to prosperity can be found in shops and boutiques, in diners and small offices throughout our communities. They’re on construction sites and in small factories, making deliveries and baking sweet treats.

So much uncertainty lies ahead, but there is one thing I know for sure. With the same tenacity and courage it took to follow their dreams, Florida’s small business owners — the little guys — will once again put Floridians back to work. You can bet on it.

Jason Brodeur is president of the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce. A Republican, he’s running to represent the 9th District in the Florida Senate.

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