Survey Reports 93 Percent Of Small Business Owners Will Vote Tuesday

The Record ( — Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Record

Irvine, Calif.-based Sage North America, a business software provider, released findings from its first-ever voting climate survey that showed business customers were negative on whether federal stimulus bills helped them, the anticipated impact of the new health care law and the economy's effect on their business.

"I think that overall it definitely says that small businesses are concerned," said Connie Certusi, general manager of Sage Small Business Accounting. "They are not seeing the economy turn around."

Much of the frustration felt by company owners in Sage's poll seems to stem from the weak economy. According to the survey, 78 percent said they were negatively affected in the last six months by economic conditions.

As many as 71 percent of employers strongly disagreed or disagreed with the statement that the federal government was doing enough to help them. And 73 percent said they did not benefit from the money that came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus bill signed into law February 2009.

When asked about the recently passed Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, which gives $30 billion to community banks to spur lending and $12 billion in tax relief to small businesses for immediate write-offs for new equipment, only 27 percent of those familiar with the law said it would help their companies, compared to 68 percent who said it would not.

The responses echo negative opinions nationwide from business groups that the administration's efforts to accelerate economic recovery through the stimulus bill and the Jobs Act have been too slow, misdirected and ineffective. Opponents suspect the health care law will have adverse effects on businesses, but the true impact won't be felt till after it goes fully into effect in 2014.

Sage's survey results show that business owners — 61 percent — plan to vote based on politicians' voting record and 52 percent said they would vote for candidates who showed concerns about their business.

"It's really about the issues," said Certusi. "It's all about which candidates are going to listen to them and how candidates have voted in the past."

The economy-related negativity does not bode well for the Obama administration. The Cook Political Report's preelection forecast predicts a Republican takeover in the House of Representatives and enough seat gains for the Republicans in the Senate to make it roughly divided with the Democrats.

Steve Greenblatt, president of Control Concepts Inc. in Fair Lawn, said he's paying more attention to the election this year than previous years. The provider of audiovisual remote control systems for corporations and schools said rising health insurance costs and the lack of small-business lending will influence how he votes Tuesday.

"Small businesses in general have been hit hard over the past couple of years and it's one way of voicing our opinion and trying to make an impact," said Greenblatt.

Henry Passapera, co-chief executive officer of P & R Trading Inc., a reseller of aircraft parts and equipment in East Rutherford, said while he votes in every election, this year's is particularly important.

"I just want to see that the present administration continues to do the right thing and forge on with health care reform and financial reform and other issues affecting small businesses," said Passapera.

The NJ Main Street Alliance in Newark, the state chapter of the national Main Street Alliance, has been encouraging its 850 small-business owners and self-employed members to vote, said small-business organizer Stefanie Rubin. The organization supported the federal health care law and the financial reform legislation, and regularly holds information seminars on legislative topics.

"All members recognize that this is an important election," said Rubin. "They want to hold onto all these things and build on that and not risk going back to where we were and what we had before."

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