The Best Black Friday Advice of All

Is a spike in your blood pressure any way to start the holiday season?

That is almost certain to occur on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when lemming-like, many people will rise and rush to their automobiles, sit in traffic for hours, and arrive just in time to jostle for a prime parking spot at the mall.

Already pulsating, your anxiety level reaches cruising altitude, as you think the most uncharitable thoughts of the people in line in front of you: The ones who couldn't have a rough estimate of cash, or their credit card, ready in their hands, but had to wait until they approached the cashier before fumbling through their purses and wallets. The ones with a lot of questions for answers clearly printed on the box.

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NFIB Offers Scholarships for Class of 2014

High school seniors in the class of 2014 still have time to apply for scholarships offered by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Young Entrepreneur Foundation. The new deadline for applications is January 6, 2014, giving eligible applicants an extra couple of weeks to complete their applications over the holidays.

Each year, the NFIB Young Entrepreneur program offers non-renewable scholarships that recognize young people who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and initiative with college scholarship, ranging in value from $1,000 to $10,000. The program was established to raise awareness among the nation's youth of the critical role that private enterprise and entrepreneurship play in the building of America.

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Small-Business Owner Optimism Cannot Be Sustained

After three months of sustained growth, the March NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism ended its slow climb, declining 1.3 points and landing at 89.5. In the 44 months of economic expansion since the beginning of the recovery in July 2009, the Index has averaged 90.7, putting the March reading below the mean for this period. Of the ten Index components, two increased, two were unchanged and six declined. Among the greatest declines were labor market indicators, inventory investment plans and sales expectations.

Read more: Small-Business Owner Optimism Cannot Be Sustained

The Case for Better Regulations

Within days of each other this month, Gov. Steve Bullock released his business plan for Montana, and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its latest jobs report.

The BLS report found that Montana's employment has grown back to its pre-recession peak, although the recovery has taken longer than any since the BLS started keeping score back in 1939. Part of this success has come from common-sense state regulatory policies.

Pledging to create "a climate that attracts, retrains and grows businesses," the governor's plan made it clear that there is a direct correlation between economic development and smart regulations.

Unfortunately, our federal agencies in Washington have not come to the same solution. The biggest obstacle to Montana's long-term economic growth and the short-term recovery of the U.S. economy, especially for small businesses, has been federal regulations.

Years of uncoordinated regulatory expansion by federal agencies has created a complex and inefficient system that works against America's job creators.

This is not a political issue. Regulatory requirements have grown under the watch of Democratic and Republican presidents. Now, elected officials of both parties are noticing the threat that the current regulatory system poses to business growth and job creation. It's not hard to see why.

There are more than 400 federal agencies in Washington, and many of these agencies put out rules and regulations. When you add these regulations on top of state regulations and on top of existing regulations, it's easy to see how we have inadvertently created regulatory morass with a host of inefficient, duplicative, and outdated rules. In fact, as of February, there were more than 3,000 new federal regulations pending.

One of the main reasons that private sector job growth has been so slow is uncertainty among small-business owners about what new regulations are coming next, and how much they will to add to the cost of doing business.

Expanding payroll is a major bet on the future. And small-business owners are reluctant to make that bet while the wild card of new federal regulations is on the table.

Our regulatory system is in critical need of modernization and giving small businesses a greater voice in the regulatory process, providing an independent review of both the potential costs and benefits a regulation would create, and building a more transparent rule-making process would go a long way in updating and balancing the current process.

Rules like the Clean Water Act proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers is a prime example. It would give the agencies authority over any private property and dramatically expand the definition of wetlands. As a result, ranchers, who might have ditches on their land that fill with water when it rains, may need a permit from the EPA. And the cost of an EPA permit can run as much as $270,000.

Regulations play an important role to be sure safeguarding our community and protecting the pristine environment in our state. But, it's not sensible to make landowners susceptible to a host of new permitting requirements. Rules, like the expanded definition of wetlands under the Clean Water Act, only reaffirm the need for modernization of our regulatory system.

It's time to take a stand for smarter and more efficient regulations — and we hope Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh will lead the way. This is something that many small-business owners in Montana would welcome.

NFIB Notifying Business Owners About Obamacare

The National Federation of Independent Business, the nation's leading small-business association, is sending postcards and emails to its 350,000 small-business members, including the 6,000 here in Montana, warning them of an October 1 deadline for employers to have informed their employees about their health insurance options.

"The federal government has done a lousy job of keeping employers informed, so we're doing it ourselves," said Riley Johnson, Montana state director for NFIB. "We don't want to give the administration an opportunity to play 'gotcha' with our members."

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Historically Low Rates of Job Creation, but Trend is in Right Direction

Chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) William C. Dunkelberg, issued the following statement on the February job numbers, based on NFIB's monthly economic survey released on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The survey was conducted in January and reflects the responses of 870 sampled NFIB members:

Read more: Historically Low Rates of Job Creation, but Trend is in Right Direction

80% in Survey Support Fracking in Montana

In one result from an annual survey released of its Montana members, the nation's largest and leading small-business association found a big resistance to erecting state barriers against fracking technology.

"The very best of citizens, small-business owners are second to none in wanting and working for a better environment," said Riley Johnson, Montana state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, "so when they give their approval to fracking technology, you can be sure it was with considerable thought behind it. The very nature of running a small business is the daily exercise of weighing and balancing all variables before deciding on a course of action."

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The Winners and Losers of Tax Day

The good news is that business is terrific right now for the professionals who are paid to prepare tax returns. The bad news is that the tax code that ensures their success is weighing down an essential sector of job creation: small business.

Ninety-one percent of small-business owners surveyed recently by the National Federation of Independent Business reported that they simply can't navigate the twisted and tangled code; they are left with no choice but to shift the task to experts.

Read more: The Winners and Losers of Tax Day

Not Much Hope for Job Creation...

Chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) William C. Dunkelberg, issued the following statement on the January job numbers, based on NFIB's monthly economic survey that will be released February 12, 2013. The survey was conducted in January and reflects the responses of 2,033 sampled NFIB members:              

"The first month of the New Year didn't provide much hope for the months that will follow, at least not on the job creation front, where the trend was positive, but ever-so-slight. For small employers, the average change in employment per firm increased to 0.09 workers, up from 0.03 workers in December. This is the second consecutive month with positive growth, and is sadly the best reading since April 2012. That's not saying much.

Read more: Not Much Hope for Job Creation...

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