Augusta small-business owners give thoughts on industry

Confidence among small-business owners across the country remained stagnant in August, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Georgia’s director of the federation, Kyle Jackson, said small-business owners in the state, as other parts of the country, are discouraged amid so many uncertainties.

“You’re not going to invest in new employees or new equipment or a bigger space unless you’re pretty sure the investment is going to pay off,” Jackson said. “Right now, though, small-business owners don’t know what the health care law is going to do to them. They don’t know what their taxes will be. And they don’t know what new regulations the government’s going to throw them.”

Locally, feedback was a mix of positive and negative. Dale Cliett falls in the latter category.

For nearly 30 years, Cliett has operated Cliett Automotive Repair Service on Washington Road in Evans.

“The last two weeks, my business didn’t even make my payroll, much less all of the things I have to do to stay in business,” said Cliett, whose extra costs include a $200 subscription to a data trade program, two separate insurance policies and a $400 power bill at his shop. “The past two weeks are the worst two weeks I’ve seen since I’ve been in business.”

Cliett said he blames the federal government for destroying and turning its back on small businesses.

“The government is running Main Street,” he said. “Main Street needs to be running the country, not the government running the country. The government needs to stay out of Main Street’s business.”

Cliett said he worries that with government meddling in small business and the full launch of the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, he won’t be able to expand his already reduced two-employee staff any time in the future.

“There will be no change until after Obama gets out of office,” he said. “And then there’s a chance that there won’t be a change then if we don’t change our leadership.”

According to the NFIB, small businesses nationally reported a slowdown in both sales and profits in August. Although August marked the fourth consecutive month of job shrinkage for small-business owners, 16 percent of firms plan to hire in upcoming months.

Ashley Babbitt said her fashion boutique in Surrey Center, Fab’rik, didn’t see adverse sales in August. The store had an average stream of revenue last month, which Babbitt attributed to consumers busy with back-to-school activities.

“I think it’s only going to get better,” said Babbitt, a co-owner. “I think we’re in a unique situation with our store because everything is under $100. That’s kind of what people are looking for right now.”

The store opened in April with six employees, and Babbitt doesn’t foresee a need yet to expand.

“We’ll probably have some extra holiday help, but right now we’re good,” she said.

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